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Early Learning Gains Late Focus as Subject on Final Day of AASA Conference

Edward Manuszak, executive director for early childhood of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District in Ann Arbor, Mich., is the lead for AASA's Early Learning Cohort. Photo by Brianna Driver.

The future of education can be so much more than just K-12 but further expanded to P-20, meaning the teaching and nurturing of children from birth to adulthood.

A two-person panel spoke about the importance of starting children in an early education setting at their session “Learn What the Future of Education Can Become with Early Learning” at the AASA national conference on Saturday.

Presenter Edward Manuszak, leader of AASA’s Early Learning Cohort and early learning executive director of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District in Ann Arbor, Mich., discussed how children positively benefit in the future and have higher graduation rates from early learning.

“It’s not just early childhood education, it’s a dropout prevention strategy,” Manuszak said.

He went on to talk about how taking small steps to further the education of children will greatly impact the success rates of students and put a positive shift the way children learn. “It doesn’t take a lot of money, but you do need to dedicate space to it if you want it to happen,” he added.

The second speaker, Peter Finch, superintendent of West Valley School District in Yakima, Wash., spoke about his experience as being the only early learning lighthouse school district recognized by  AASA in its Learning 2025 initiative. He expressed how all school districts will benefit from early childhood education and stressed the key to success is early learning.

The duo provided attendees an updated and free toolkit they crafted,  which is meant to help guide superintendents and school districts down the correct path to reimagine the future of early learning for all schools.

The speakers said their main goal is to improve the understanding of young children and the way schools interact with students and their families. Both panelists explained how early learning is more than education by allowing children to be children and connect with themselves, their family and other people.

(Isabella Sandoval is a reporting intern for Conference Daily Online and a senior at Judson High School in Converse, Texas.)

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