Cate says income impacts early childhood education

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(Host) According to Vermont’s new education commissioner, Richard Cate, one of the biggest challenges facing the state in the next few years is the development of stronger early education programs.

Speaking Tuesday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Cate said new assessment results clearly show a significant performance gap in early grade levels for students from lower income families. It’s a situation Cate says must be addressed in the near future:

(Cate) “The differences there are really phenomenal. It just comes right out at us as we try to identify that it’s not about necessarily that they’re getting different instruction in the schools or anything else. It always comes back to, were they ready for school when they got there? In most cases we find that they’re not. And if we can do more in terms of investments on the front end, I think we can avoid some of the costs we’re currently incurring on the upper levels of their educational careers.”

(Host) Cate says he wants to discuss a variety of proposals with lawmakers this winter that are designed to expand early education programs. The commissioner says he’s hopeful that some changes to the state’s current system will be adopted by the Legislature in the upcoming session.

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