Ridiculous 2-Day Line For Pre-K Registration Highlights Importance Of Early Education

Parents in Jersey City are going to great lengths to secure a space at a decent pre-K for their kids

Parents who are determined to provide quality, early education for their children waited outside for two days in a line for pre-kindergarten registration in New Jersey. That fact alone highlights the desperate change needed in early education in this country.

About 100 parents showed up for the pre-K registration line, which is on a first-come-first-serve basis and gives parents of 3-year-olds a shot at 82 spots at Concordia Learning Center. The state requires the Jersey City school district to provide pre-K to all children, so placement in the school is free to residents.

Officials claim that all the pre-k programs in the district have the “same standards of high quality,” but clearly families disagree if they’re willing to work in shifts and sleep outside for two days to ensure their kids, and grand-kids get into the program. “We had my granddaughter here before and it’s a fabulous school,” Jacqueline Nelson told NJ. “Now, it’s my grandson’s time, so I don’t mind taking my time, so he can get a great education as well.”

Pre-K programs aren’t a privilege but a crucial step in the education process that parents should be able to easily access. These tiny humans desperately need the constant stimulation and opportunity to learn that pre-K programs provide. Pre-K programs have shown to increase both cognitive and socio-emotional gains in children. Research shows that the human brain develops the vast majority of its neurons and is most receptive to learning between birth and 3-years-old, according to John Hopkins University.

And these parents know it. They see their kids learning new things every day and want their sons and daughters to keep growing. Most American households can’t afford to have a parent stay at home full-time, so the argument that these parents should just spend more time with their kids is ignorant and implausible.

You know who else realizes that early education is a big damn deal? Politicians. The studies have been pushed in their faces for years now, but some refuse to do anything about it. I’m sick of hearing Donald Trump call people losers, and I’m over the Hillary Clinton email scandal. The candidates should be talking about what they’re going to do to help American kids learn so their parents, frantic to provide decent education, don’t have to camp outside for two days in order to get them into a decent program.

In December 2014, President Obama announced major initiatives for early education, including $750 million in new federal grant awards that would support about 63,000 children across the country. But it isn’t enough. Kids who live in Jersey City are guaranteed entrance to a pre-K program, but that isn’t the case for the whole state or most school districts within the country. We need to push all of our politicians, especially local and state ones, to fund quality education for our youngest learners in every community, so parents can be at home with their kids instead of sleeping on sidewalks hoping to secure a pre-K spot.