“To be at a point, financially, where we’re able to see a dream like this become a reality, I don’t think I can adequately explain how fulfilling this is. This is a big deal. This initiative will make a big difference in the lives of children in a way that will have long-term positive impact on crime, welfare, culture, and the workforce. I am so excited to see this happen.”
– Governor Eddie Baza Calvo
Many young parents need help to go back to school to improve their skills and their prospects for a better future. On top of all the benefits of a structured pre-K program and early childhood education, this new universal program will give young parents the opportunity to go back to school and work while their four-year-old is getting a good education.”
– Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio
Pre-K for Every 4-Year-Old
Are you the parent of a four-year-old child or younger? Planning on having kids? Some of Guam’s public elementary schools may have a new grade level as early as this August for your daughter and son: pre-Kindergarten.
And, in a plan to be unveiled by Sen. Aline Yamashita in collaboration with the First Lady and the Superintendent of Education, all public elementary schools will have a pre-K grade level by the end of the decade.
“Guam was ahead of its day, when we introduced universal Kindergarten,” Sen. Yamashita said. “It’s decades later, and some states are still struggling with making universal, all day kindergarten a reality for all families in their state, while others have moved on to phasing in universal preschool programs. With the strengthening of our finances, we have to be strategic about what we use the revenues for. We have to invest in strengthening the good times and sustaining it for our families. The best investment we can make to ensure that happens is into our children. We don’t want to be sitting here 20 years from now asking what happened to the ‘good ole days.’ We have to invest in our families.”
Governor Budgets for Ground-breaking Program
All of this is possible if a budgetary request by Governor Calvo to fund the implementation of universal pre-K is approved by the Legislature in the FY 2015 budget. The Governor prioritized General Fund revenues, on top of whatever the Legislature decides to give to DOE, of $4 million to DOE specifically for this program in its first year.
(NOTE: Governor’s Chief Education Advisor Vince Leon Guerrero explains more about this on Good Question, which airs tonight after the PNC Week in Review on Channels 6 & 7. Leon Guerrero also will call in to The Buzz with Jesse Lujan on KUAM’s Isla 630 AM tomorrow morning to discuss this more. Sen. Aline Yamashita also will be holding a continuation of her planning sessions Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. in her Families First Office in Tamuning.)
First Lady & Senator Made Request
This follows a letter from First Lady Christine Calvo, co-chair of the Early Learning Council, and Sen. Yamashita, who is on the Council, has been an advocate for early childhood education, and is herself a former early childhood educator. The First Lady and the Senator stated in their letter how critical it is for Guam to adopt universal pre-K if we are to progress as a society with long-term economic and social benefits. They asked the Governor to find the funding for the initiative.
“Every child deserves — and has a right — to the opportunity to become a successful citizen,” First Lady Christine Calvo said. “The men and women of the Early Learning Council have been advocating for young children to have these opportunities. Universal pre-K levels the field and says to Guam’s children that it doesn’t matter if you’re poor, disabled, sick, or different in any way — you can succeed, and the Guamanian Dream is for you, too,”
After speaking with Superintendent Jon Fernandez, the Governor went to the Fiscal Team and directed them to include the appropriation.
Long-term Solution to Crime, Welfare, Drugs, Career-readiness
This one action will impact several facets of the community in the short- and long-term. Research supports the fact that if a child is reading to grade level by the Third Grade, he and she likely will succeed in school and be on track for college and career. The best way to get a child reading to grade level by the Third Grade? Enroll her and him into structured pre-K. Children succeeding in school and moving on to college and career, of course has immeasurable benefit to society. More Guamanians will be high-skilled workers and owners, and will be less likely to turn to drugs, crime and welfare.
More Jobs
An immediate impact will be the creation of scores more jobs and education opportunities. This program will fund new teaching positions for teachers already certified in early childhood education, and new teachers who will seek certification. The idea will be for DOE to recruit its best and most-qualified teachers in early childhood education into these classrooms. Another program introduced by the Governor in the budget addresses this, and will be discussed in a forthcoming release.
Early Childhood Programs at GCC & UOG
The Superintendent also will have the flexibility to use these funds in case he needs to support teacher training and recruitment through the Guam Community College and University of Guam. The other immediate impact will be the increase in demand on GCC and UOG to produce certified teachers in this field.

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