Early childhood education is critical to proper educational development of our youth. Many generations of past are used to starting public education at age 5 but today’s generation and culture encourages children to enter the educational system shortly after being born. Today’s guest was Dr. Steve Knobl, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition with Hillsborough County. Steve, along with his wife, are life long educators and Steve is in this new role which focuses on getting children educated at a younger age.
According to Dr. Knobl, businesses in Hillsborough County have a clear economic stake in the future of our children and the Early Learning Coalition is looking for local businesses to be active partners in promoting policies that help young children succeed. Quality prekindergarten is an important early childhood education and development issue, but it is also a critical workforce issue. That is why the Florida Chamber supports these investments. For every dollar invested in early learning education, our community receives a return of $17. Early involvement pays off now and far into the future. It’s a basic tenant of business really, investing early in our workforce pipeline ensures better long-term outcomes. Business support of and involvement in the programs and services of the Early Learning Coalition ensures that our community will grow students that can meet the demands of the 21st century job market.
In addition, Dr. Knobl states that Hillsborough County, specifically Tampa, is experiencing tremendous growth. In the next decade, our community is slated to create thousands of new jobs, many of them rooted in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M.). However, there are troubling reports that suggest a projected shortage of qualified workers. If Tampa/Hillsborough wishes to remain an appealing, long-term hub for growth and STEM related jobs, it is our communal responsibility to ensure that our children are learning, understanding and fully engaged in top-notch, quality early learning programs. Investing in our children today will not only ensure Tampa’s continued economic growth, but will help our most innovative industries continue to thrive well-into the future.
In closing, Dr. Knobl reminds us that while employers depend on schools and universities to produce young men and women prepared for the demands of the work world they must understand that the conversation must include the preschool age years. Early childhood education directly supports the development and preparation for students’ future success, and that includes workplace success. Early childhood programs support young children through their discovery process, helping them develop skills and knowledge of numeracy, literacy, social connectedness and moral character. This time in their lives is essential to enabling them to build lifelong success academically and in life. Ensuring positive outcomes for all members of our community contributes to our shared prosperity – both now and into the future. When we promote economic stability for families, we all benefit from better outcomes in education, health, and more. When we invest wisely in children, the next generation pays it back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship
While some of the funding for the organization comes from the State, Dr. Knobl encourages donations and volunteers to help with the organization. You can learn how to get involved at their site www.elchc.org and learn more about our program at www.tampabayradio.com and how to get on the show at www.tbsinterview.com!