Moving On: A Look Back at Early Learning’s Success in Washington and Across the Nation

Washington state’s work in early learning during the last decade has been an incredible story, defined by its success building high-quality systems of child care and preschool and its emergence as a national leader in early education.

I have been lucky to cover this story for Thrive Washington, the breakthroughs in research and practices, impressive growth of quality childcare and preschool, alignment of pre-kindergarten with elementary school, development of a quality rating and improvement system — Early Achievers, and, perhaps most important, early learning’s growing importance in public policy debates.

Today, my role in telling this story for Thrive ends because this is my last post for Birth to Thrive Online as I prepare for a new job. It marks an end, at least for now, of a narrative that chronicled early learning’s emergence on the national stage and spanned my work as a journalist, blogger and analyst. I will continue to write about early education, though through a different lens.

My story began eight years ago — as many stories do — over breakfast. As a reporter at The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, I covered an early morning talk by then-Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis economist Art Rolnick on the importance of investing in early learning. As a new dad, I sleepily nodded in agreement with Rolnick’s arguments, even though I didn’t really know why I was nodding.

Over the next seven years, I learned why by exploring groundbreaking work around the country. Initially, I wrote about the struggles of working parents to find and pay for high-quality child care. Over the years, I covered inspiring work to align pre-k with K-3 in Minnesota, San Francisco, and Seattle; improve kindergarten readiness in San Antonio, Texas; create an early learning model in Detroit, Michigan; and improve early learning around Washington. Thank you to everyone who gave me these opportunities, including New America, the Foundation for Child Development; the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund; and others too numerous to list here.

When the Seattle P-I closed six years ago, Thrive immediately gave me the greatest opportunity. Every week, I was allowed to cover the latest developments in childcare, home visiting, preschool and early education. When I began writing for Birth to Thrive Online I thought all of these efforts were important. Thanks to my work with Thrive, now I know investing in early education is one of the keys to a better education system, healthier children, and stronger communities.

At the same time, I was able to see early learning’s impact closer to home. My youngest child was born shortly before I began working with Thrive. The flexibility of my work allowed me to see the impact of early literacy, quality childcare and aligned education on him and his siblings.

Thank you for reading. Quite simply, my work doesn’t matter without you.

Thank you Thrive Washington for everything your team does to create a model early learning system and healthier futures for children and families. I look forward to reading about the great work to come.