(KCPW News) Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is creating an action group to improve early education and literacy among the city's children. He announced it at his second education summit at the Sorensen Unity Center this morning. Becker's education coordinator, Joanne Milner, says ensuring that children are prepared to go into kindergarten will help close the achievement gap that persists among low-income and minority students.
"We know that we have children here that need those supplemental services prior to getting into school so that there's not that great disparity when they start and that they're ready to learn and ready to read," Milner says.
Salt Lake City's diversity enriches the community, Milner says, but also poses a challenge, because many of the immigrant and minority populations start school at a disadvantage. She says part of improving early childhood education is involving parents in the process.
Salt Lake City School District Board Member Alama Uluave is a Tongan immigrant who challenges parents in his west side precinct to get more involved in their children's education. He says there is a lot of talk about bridging the achievement gap, and a lot of resources for parents, but the problem persists because accessing those resources remains a problem.
"And accessibility is a function of the individual who needs the help and also a function of those who provide the help," Uluave says. "If we cannot connect those two, the needs and the resources, the demands and the resources, then it's not going to happen."
The next early education action group meeting will focus on parenting. Meanwhile, Mayor Becker's Education Summit series plans to focus on criminal behavior in children.