Early Childhood Education

Our son was six months when he was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow anywhere on the nervous system. The disorder is one of “wait and see” as every case is entirely different. But right away, it became apparent that our son was not developing as fast as other kids. He was quickly falling behind on milestones in speech, coordination, and learning. Our doctor suggested we have him tested for the district intervention pre-school. The doctor was optimistic he would get in.

At the district testing, we went through each station. Carson’s eyes, coordination, speech, and other areas were tested. At the end as I sat down to see where Carson’s placement would be. I will never forget the staff member saying, “I am sorry he doesn’t qualify for any help in the district.” I went home that day feeling confused. On one side, our doctor said he needed early childhood education and at a specialized level. On the other side, the district said he did not. I believe it boiled down to a funding issue.

Over the next couple of weeks, my husband and I enrolled my son in speech, OT, PT, and a pre-school per our doctor’s suggestions. We will never undervalue the blessing of having private insurance and the ability to pay for schooling because these early services were needed, and it continues 13 years later. Carson was eventually placed on an extensive IEP as the schools recognized his actual needs. I only wish it could have been sooner.

Looking through years, the one thing teachers tell us is “How lucky Carson is to have parents who advocate and support him.” And I always go back to his pre-school and early interventions. He was lucky because we COULD help him. We could get him a head start despite the challenges that lay ahead. But for many parents, that is not the case. Early education is not cheap. That is why it is so essential to support early education funding. Recently, the Idaho Legislature turned away $6 million of funding for early childhood education. After much public feedback, another bill has is proposed to bring this funding back to our young children. To give them equal footing as they enter our public schools.

Once they enter the public schools, there is finally a full-day Kindergarten bill proposed by Senator Carl Crabtree and Representative Judy Boyle. They are offering Idaho’s kids even more of a chance to begin to catch up with the rest of the nation.

We could not be more excited to see both these bills on the Governor’s desk for signing. They will allow education for all and the early intervention needed with so many. They will enable a head start to our greatest assets, our children. Something I think we all can agree would be amazing.

Shannon McNall
West Ada School District

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