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Oneya Okuwobi Cincinnati, Ohio

The Importance of a Pre-School Education

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My name is Oneya Okuwobi.

I have been involved in preschool promise as an ambassador talking to families and to church members about the importance of a pre-school education. I am the mom of a 5- year-old and she is in kindergarten this year after two years of high quality preschool. My daughter was fully prepared for kindergarten. She is thriving, she is doing great, she loves going to school. But I know that every child is not as fortunate as my child has been.

Just recently I was at the post office talking to the clerk and we were talking about our children. She was telling me how her son was now in the process of repeating kindergarten, because she didn’t know that going into kindergarten he needed to know all of his letters, his letter sounds, and be at the beginning stages of reading. Because she didn’t have that information available to her and because she didn’t have a high quality preschool, she was now in anguish about having not prepared her child properly.

I am a follower of Christ and I believe that every person is created in the image of God. This means that the people with resources and human capital should not be the only ones to have the knowledge and ability to send their children to preschool. Instead, every single child in Cincinnati deserves the same opportunity and the same level of quality education right from the beginning, so that their capabilities can be fully realized.

For families who work full-time, preschool is very expensive!  Honestly, I paid more for my daughter’s preschool than what was paid for my college education. Lots of families around the country are facing the very tough decisions about how to send their child to a high-quality preschool with the wages that they have. How can families afford full-time preschool when their income may only be enough for half-day care? For somebody who has to work full-time to support their family, that does not work. Preschool not only has to be affordable, but also available to people who need to work full-time. It needs to be able to take that burden off so that parents are not worried about where their child is and what they are learning, so that they can be at work and be comfortable knowing that their child is getting a high-quality education at the same time.

The People’s Platform…Respect for Every Child, starting with Black and Brown children; Creating High Quality Jobs, these sorts of things are going to be critical to making sure that the Preschool Promise is done in an equitable way that really benefits every single child. What I would ask other people in Cincinnati to do, is to not just look at their biological or adoptive children as THEIR children, because EVERY CHILD in Cincinnati is OUR CHILD. We need to make sure as a group that we are giving them the right opportunity so that they can benefit the city economically, culturally, etc. in the future. And they will if we can invest in them right now.