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February 15, 2013

Patrick touts early education plan

IPSWICH — A group of kids gathered in a circle around Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday morning as he read the British children’s book “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney.

Patrick fit the part at the Birth to Three Family Center on Market Street, even taking his shoes off, singing songs and partaking in snack time. He was in town to meet with local officials to talk about his proposed education investment plan, which includes increased spending for early childhood development from birth to 5 years old.

The plan calls for $350 million to go toward early education over the five years, $131 million for next year alone.

“We have to start governing for the next generation,” Patrick said. “That means making the kinds of investments right now that we know are going to build stronger citizens, stronger workers and a stronger community.”

After snack time, Patrick met with Ipswich Superintendent Rick Korb, principals, School Committee members and other officials to discuss the plan.

“It was an opportunity for us as local officials to share our programs like Birth to Three,” Korb said. “It shows the importance of funding to keep programs like this going for early childhood intervention.”

Birth to Three Family Center in Ipswich, under the guidance of the Ipswich Public Schools, is partially funded by an annual grant from the Department of Early Education and Care. Four years ago the center received $150,000 a year, Korb said, but that has been cut to $60,000.

“I was very hopeful,” Korb said of the meeting with Patrick. “His commitment to early childhood development is evident in his budget.”

School Committee member Jen Bauman said she was honored to have Patrick recognize the center as a quality program.

“His priority to put funding in early education is in line with my priorities for the Ipswich Public Schools,” Bauman said. “It is evident that studies have shown the importance of early education for kids entering kindergarten. It provides a necessary foundation for later success.”

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