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Your Child's Education: Start Early and Get Ahead

The CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit discusses the importance of early education in honor of the fourth installment of Education Detroit

I grew up knowing that I HAD to do well in school. My parents made it clear that there was no alternative. My family moved away from Detroit for about nine years because of my father's job, but we came back, and I finished my secondary education at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School before moving on to the University of Michigan for undergraduate and law degrees. I am a product of Detroit, just like those featured in this issue of Education Detroit: Sharnita Johnson, Shaka Senghor, Mona Lisa Kelly and W.K. Kellogg Foundation President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron.

I love my hometown. And while its education systems have been in a state of crisis for several decades, there are also grounds for optimism. So many institutions (like the Kellogg Foundation, among others), programs and people are part of the solution. None are more important than you. If you're a parent or guardian of a child in Detroit, this magazine holds some powerful information for you to use to make your child's educational life richer and stronger.

This issue focuses particularly on what happens when you start your child's learning experiences early. Quite simply: when you start early, you get ahead. Learning starts before birth. And once a newborn opens his eyes, his learning journey continues at a rapid rate.

One way you can be sure your youngest children are in a high-quality early learning program is by asking how many stars that program has earned through Michigan's Great Start to Quality program. Up to five stars are available. Excellent Schools Detroit recommends families send their children to programs earning three to five stars. Here's my challenge to you: If you have young children, ask your early learning provider "How many stars did you earn in the Great Start quality rating system?"

Unfortunately, as children in Detroit age, many start school late. Up to 20 percent of Detroit children who are eligible for kindergarten don't attend! At Excellent Schools Detroit, we want to change that. We want to see every 5-year-old in a high-quality kindergarten program. Start early and get ahead!

Looking for a good elementary school? This issue includes our list of 31 recommended elementary and middle schools. Also in this issue, we have listed some great summer enrichment program opportunities you'll want to consider for your children.

Have a great summer. We'll see you again in August as all of us prepare for back to school. The next issue will feature an updated 2014 Scorecard – for both early learners and K-12 schools – with grades and rankings for all.

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