The Early Childhood Resource Center recently hosted a showing of No Small Matter, a documentary by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Craig Jacobs of Chicago, on the limitless benefits of early childhood education.
The Canton Repository featured an opinion piece about the documentary screening and the importance of early childhood education. The full text of the piece is below or available here.
By Charita Goshay
Recently, 17 students from Walnut Hill High School in suburban Cincinnati made national news for earning perfect scores on their SATs.
Several local high schools — Jackson, Hoover, Louisville, Green, Lake, Northwest, GlenOak and Perry — ranked in the top 200 among the 916 in Ohio on the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best High Schools” list.
So, how do we get there, Canton City Schools?
We already know how.
Last week, the Early Childhood Resource Center, which is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, hosted a showing of “No Small Matter,” a documentary by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Craig Jacobs of Chicago, on the limitless benefits of early childhood education.
“It’s not a movie about kids, or parents,” Jacobs said. “It’s movie about how the country supports families with babies and very young children, or rather, how we don’t.”
Children enrolled in high-quality early childhood education programs do better in school, attain higher levels of education and are more likely to become productive adults than those who aren’t.
Jacobs, whose father, Gerald, lives in Canton, added that “Society has diminished capacity in supporting parents in what it expects parents to do.”
But Canton, he said, is ahead of the curve in that it has an Early Childhood Resource Center that offers such programs as the SPARK school-readiness program. Also, Talk First Stark, an initiative of the Great Start for Great Futures Committee, just introduced a public service campaign to encourage parents to embrace their role as their child’s first teacher.
According to “No Small Matter,” our brains grow faster in the first years of our lives than at any other time. The first three years of a child’s life is the “big bang” for the brain, when 86 million neurons connect 1 million times per second. We know this from the technology that can measure a baby’s brain activity long before he or she can talk.
The film further contends that daily, positive interaction with infants and young children is the equivalent of “brain food.” It also showed how early childhood education is affected by factors that, on the surface, don’t appear to be connected.
For instance, because wages have been stagnant for 40 years, both parents now, typically, have to work. In 1950, 12% of mothers worked. Today, its 65 percent.
In 28 states, the cost of child care is comparable to tuition at a public college or university. Early childhood educators, however, are in the bottom 3% of wages, earning less than bartenders and dog groomers.
Are you OK with that?
About 46% rely on some form of public assistance; the job turnover rate is 33%.
Three retired military officers featured in the documentary went so far as to call a lack of early childhood education a national security issue. A whopping 71% of all 18- to 24-year-olds, they said, are unable to serve due to poor education skills, criminal records and/or an inability to pass a physical.
Also, being exposed to what the film calls such “toxic trauma” as domestic violence, drugs or imprisonment of one’s parents results in physical and emotional damage, doubling a child’s risk for dying from seven of the top 10 causes of death.
Retired Stark County Family Judge Mike Howard, who introduced the film with Barbara Bennett, director of education initiatives at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he saw for himself the connection between a young person’s failure in school and criminal behavior.
“We know high school is too late. But junior high is too late. Grade school is too late,” he said.
Jacobs noted that a restructuring of Chicago’s public schools didn’t achieve the desired results, largely because so many kids live with toxic trauma.
“What if we changed the raw material going into the system?” he asked.
Before he resigned, former Canton City Schools Superintendent Adrian Allison noted that only about a third of the city’s toddlers are enrolled in early learning programs.
What if “No Small Matter” could be shown to parents of newborns while they’re still at Aultman Hospital or Mercy Medical Center?
“The earlier the investment, the bigger the payoff,” Jacobs said. “There’s no better return on your money.”
A ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, the Early Childhood Resource Center is a child care resource and referral agency proudly serving Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit and Trumbull counties. The Early Childhood Resource Center works to promote the healthy development of young children by: strengthening families, improving the quality of early learning experiences, increasing school and community readiness, and informing public policy.
The Early Childhood Resource Center recently hosted a showing of “No Small Matter,” a documentary by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Craig Jacobs of Chicago, on the limitless benefits of early childhood education.
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