Want to increase graduation rates and boost employment? Then, Portia Kennel says, you better start early. Very early.
"The great deal of learning that takes place in the first five years of life is greater than any time in the development of a human being," Kennel says. "What a wasted opportunity for us to wait until children enter school in kindergarten at 5 years old, when the brain's development has already been going on and has developed almost 80 percent of its capacity."
Kennel helps oversee a series of schools called Educare, which are designed to improve services for infants and toddlers from low-income families. The goal, she says, isn't to narrow the achievement gap. It's to prevent it.
"The longer and longer we wait, the greater the gap and the more it's gonna cost us to narrow that gap. So why not invest now? Because you're gonna have to pay later," she says.
Next spring, Educare will open its first District outpost in the Parkside-Kenilworth neighborhood of Northeast D.C, where it will serve 171 children from birth to age 5.