Randleman: Importance of early education

Two weeks ago, I attended the 2022 Early Childhood Leadership Summit in Phoenix. This group is a bipartisan gathering from all 50 states.

There are four things that the conference aims to do: 1) identify current challenges and opportunities in the field of early childhood education; 2) support needs of infants and toddlers; 3) build a strong early childhood workforce; and 4) identify the state of the child care industry.

This conference was led by Dr. Dan Wuori of the Hunt Institute based in North Carolina. The Hunt Institute creates meaningful platforms to support policies on education from birth to the workforce.

During the conference, we had discussions over shared experiences and techniques that are used throughout the country, and national experts provided educational policies. This Summit included state legislators, superintendents, leaders in higher education and early childhood agency directors.

The Summit was put together to identify ways that we can encourage brain balance in young children. The research indicates that within one second, there are millions of neurons firing in a 3-year-old's brain. This is an ideal time to prepare our children for early childhood learning.

Furthermore, research indicates that the brain is working on building this massive amount of neurons before they are born. In addition to these neurons, studies show that 75% of someone's personality is developed by age 9, with most of it maturing before 5.

This makes it so important for us to have programs for children from birth to 3, ages 3 to 5 and ages 5 to 9. Each of these stages should have measurable achievements that occur in their education progress.

At the Summit, I consulted with Susana Martinez, former governor of New Mexico, and state Rep. Brenda Shields from Missouri. I discussed with Rep. Shields the techniques they use in Missouri and how they compare with what we're doing in Oklahoma.

She told me about some techniques that they are using in Missouri for early childhood from birth to 3-years-old. These are techniques I will be considering to use in Oklahoma.

I invited Rep. Shields to speak at my interim study on effective practices to increase test scores in elementary and middle schools, which is scheduled before the House Common Education Committee on Oct. 13.

During my interim study, I'll be discussing the effective techniques we have used in Cottonwood Public Schools, currently the leader of our state with test scores. I've been involved for many years with this model school in southeast Oklahoma, which is a small, rural four-day school.

I'm scheduled to talk about this school in another interim study at the Capitol specifically on four day schools. This study will take place on Oct. 12, and I'll recap the study's findings in a future column.

As state leaders, I believe we should always be looking at new ways to improve our education system.

Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula, represents District 15 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes portions of Haskell, Le Flore, McIntosh, Muskogee, Pittsburg and Sequoyah counties. Randleman can be reached at (405) 557-7375 or randy.randleman@okhouse.gov.

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