I had the opportunity to attend the news conference today announcing funding for a new Early Learning Initiative to help ensure that every child in Aurora has access to pre-school opportunities. There are currently only 49 "slots" for every 100 three and four year olds in Aurora who are at high risk of not being ready for kindergarten. And all the research shows that children who enter kindergarten without key skills (social skills, self-control, early literacy & math, and vocabularly) are highly likely to remain academically below grade level and are at very high risk of not completing high school.
"Coincidentally" this news conference happened right before a meeting we had scheduled that included several church leaders and our state representative Linda Chapa Lavia to talk about . . .how churches can get more involved in early childhood education. The meeting was scheduled months ago. Tne news conference was announced this week. So, all of us church leaders showed up at the news conference where we learned about this partnership between the Aurora school districts, the city of Aurora, and the United Way and area non-profits. The missing piece? The local church. This gave the Church the opportunity to stand up and say, "We care about this issue, too, and we want to be a part of the solution!"
Our previously planned meeting suddenly grew in attendance as representatives from the City of Aurora and this new SPARK (Strong, Prepared and Ready for Kindergarten) initiative joined us and we began to dream about the role the local church can play in helping to educate the young children in our community.
I can't help but think that God was smiling today as he saw church and state uniting around this huge need in our community!