Dayton Daily News
By William A. LaPrise
Less than 30 percent of young adults age 17-24 are eligible to enter the United States military. The top reasons so many young adults are ineligible for service include lack of education and the inability to pass the basic entrance examination, criminality, and drug use, and lack of physical fitness.
As a retired brigadier general in the United States Army, I find this unacceptable, and I see it as a significant, long-term national security risk.
For years, the retired admirals and generals of Mission: Readiness have supported evidence-based solutions that improve our educational system from birth to career. Because we know a child’s brain develops most rapidly in the first five years of life, quality child care programs are a critical component of this effort. As most parents are part of the workforce, high-quality child care programs not only provide a safe location for children while their parents work but also key support that helps ensure that children meet their developmental milestones. In my civilian career, I served for more than 30 years in the Miamisburg, Ohio School District. My tenure included stints as a school psychologist, an elementary principal, a pupil services director, and a deputy superintendent.
My varied experience working with schoolaged children strongly suggests to me that we cannot wait until a child is in the upper grades to address academic challenges.
The time to ensure all children have the best chance to succeed in life is the first five years.
And we must do better.
Just this week, the Ohio Senate removed funding for the state’s Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) child care rating system, citing the high cost of the model and alleging that it cannot be financially sustained over time.
This action goes too far. Legislators from the Ohio House and Senate should restore language in the state budget to reflect the earlier House version, which preserves the SUTQ system. At the same time maintain the Senate’s funding increase that expands access to families with incomes up to 142 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, as this will ensure greater access for working families.
Because of the importance and potential positive impact of high-quality early supports like child care, it is also imperative to continue to support community-based early learning efforts such as Learn to Earn Dayton and Dayton’s Preschool Promise.
They have been leading the way through their public/private partnership to develop a high-quality early learning experience for our children. Programs like these, as well as high-quality child care, help to lay a foundation for future success for our youngest learners.
One thing I learned as both a general and as an educator is that you cannot turn your back on challenges.
Mission: Readiness members offer their years of experience managing large government systems and billion-dollar budgets to help address the Senate’s serious concerns.
We must work together to ensure Ohio is home to elite education services from birth to career. And remember that it all begins in the first five years.
Retired Brig. Gen. William A. LaPrise of Miamisburg is also a former deputy superintendent of Miamisburg City Schools.