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Unexpected Supporters of Early Childhood Education Speak Up

July 12, 2012

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. - The first 2,000 days of a child's life are what education experts say are crucial to his or her development. North Carolinians from all walks of life are stepping up to ask the state to continue their investment in early childhood education. Last year, state funding for early childhood education funding was cut by more than $60 million, and it has not been restored in this budget year.

On a new website launched this week, Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight is one person who voices his opinion. He says in his job he sees a direct correlation between a lack of early childhood education and crime.

"They're not interested in school at all, and they begin to drop out. Once they begin to be a dropout, then they become a law-enforcement problem."

The website, www.first2000days.org, includes perspectives from pediatricians, business leaders, pastors, parents and others.

Pediatrician Michael Smith, Cary, sees first-hand the impact of early childhood education on children, when he evaluates their development in their well-check visits. He describes a hunger for learning in the youngest of babies.

"You can just see that excitement about learning developing. Then, as they get older, the more you nurture that and foster that, the more they go with it and remember it. These early years can be so important."

Researchers at Harvard have found that the human brain has a "use it or lose it" characteristic, meaning that neural connections in the brain begin disappearing after the first few years of life, unless they are stimulated.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC