On Monday, I was honored to be part of the 2013 National Business Leader Summit on Early Childhood in Atlanta. The event was hosted by ReadyNation, the early childhood program of America’s Promise Alliance (a foundation founded by Colin Powell in 1997 to help children and youth from all socioeconomic sectors in the United States), and by the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS).
The Summit brought together more than 200 business leaders and policy makers to examine the impact of effective early childhood programs. I was thrilled to be in the company of so many influential business people and public officials who share our passion for investing in America’s children and our future workforce.
At the Summit, I had the opportunity to share the Primrose story and reinforce our belief in the importance of the first five years for children. Here is a brief video of my speech:
I want to share a few thoughts that stood out to me from the conference. First is the Nelson Mandela quote that Alan Webber, Fast Company co-founder, mentioned during his presentation: “There can be no keener revelation of society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
Second, as a recent UNICEF study pointed out, the United States ranks 26 out of 29 on child well-being in developed countries—a negative reflection of our society’s “soul.” Statistics like these highlight the amount of work we need to do as a nation to leave a positive legacy. With the increasing knowledge on the importance of the first five years, we know the recipe for success and we must work collectively and tirelessly to see that our legislators and business leaders help us close the opportunity gap for all of America’s children.
Another point that resonated through comments from several speakers is that executive functioning skills, sometimes called “soft skills,” are emerging as even more important for today’s students than traditional cognitive skills. At Primrose, we emphasize academic success, as well as character building, with a curriculum that supports every aspect of a child’s development. As U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “Skills such as grit, determination, deferred gratification—these skills are very important and are hard to teach later in life.”
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson probably said it best when he said, “Our children are our message to a time we’ll never see.” At Primrose, we strive to do all we can to make sure that the message we send through your children is a promising one, filled with strong character and sound problem-solving skills.
Overwhelming statistics show that an investment in early childhood education can reduce costly outcomes for society. For instance, high-quality early childhood education increases a child’s chance of graduating from high school and going to college, and increases that child’s future employability by 23 percent.
Our continued dedication to provide the right foundation for Primrose students has caused our schools to flourish. This good fortune has only strengthened our belief that Primrose Schools must help children everywhere gain access to a quality early learning experience. The future of our nation depends on it.
For more information on the 2013 ReadyNation Summit, click here.