‘Raising America’ preview launches early childhood discussions
Brandman University hosted the countywide preview of “Raising America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation” this week. Chancellor Gary Brahm welcomed the participants representing business, government and elected officials and education, health and human services agencies to the campus.
“It is refreshing to see the wide range of professionals and policy makers here today, focused on the importance of early childhood education and how we can improve it, not only here in Orange County and in California, but across the country,” said Brahm.
Dr. Faith Polk, a School of Education faculty member, is on the event steering committee composed of 17 Orange County organizations, including partners from the business and philanthropic communities. The event included excerpts from the upcoming PBS series with the same name, instant polling that let participants weigh in with their perceptions, panel discussions and breakout sessions.
“It’s extraordinarily exciting to see all sectors of the community come together. I’m so proud to work for a university that supports community programs like this,” said Polk, echoing Brahm’s earlier statements about investment in early childhood and educating teachers for those programs, which Brandman does, being an investment future members of the workforce and future college students.
In his opening remarks, Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do talked about the need to get past the perception that Orange County is only rich people and that no special efforts are needed to care for children. He pointed to a recent county report that paints the opposite picture.
Panelist Jade Jenkins of the UC Irvine said, in general, children are seen as a private, not a public responsibility in the U.S., unlike in many other cultures and countries. Policy makers here are focused on wanting a return for their investment, a point echoed by the PBS program. She and fellow panelist Christina Altmayer, CEO of Orange County Children and Families Commission, said concrete data, such as that from a 50-year study in Michigan and more recent efforts in Utah, should be gathered locally and would go a long way toward convincing others of the benefits of investing in early childhood.
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