Lawmakers tour Medford School District to learn about preschool programs

MEDFORD, Ore. – Oregon currently ranks 48th out of 50 when it comes to graduation rates. Local educators are working with lawmakers to change those statistics through a focus on early education.

“It’s really about letting people know how important preschool is how much it does prepare students not just for their future education but their future lives as a whole.”

Sasha Cunningham began teaching 17 years ago from toddlers to college students, she’s seen it all, but she says preschool is by far her favorite.

“I really think that even from teaching every grade and at university, I really think that infant toddler education is the most important education you can get,” Cunningham said.

However, the vast majority of children don’t have access to preschool. That’s because preschool isn’t a requirement. With Oregon facing dismal graduation rates, Marisa Poling, the principal at Jackson Elementary School believes early education may be more important than ever.

“We see that kids are kindergarten ready when they have preschool experience,” Poling said.

Poling met with lawmakers today to show them how the school’s preschool program is going.

“At Jackson, having a preschool here gives us the gift of developing kiddos from age three all the way through their K-12 experience, and we see that kids are kindergarten ready when they’ve had preschool experience,” Poling said.

The preschool is supported by the state-funded ‘preschool promise’ grant that is up for new funding this legislative session. Sasha says more than the money, she’s seeing first hand how it’s helping students get a leg up.

“That’s all I want for my students, is to have an easy wonderful happy education experience because I got to have that,” Cunningham said.

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