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The Cambridge City Council debated a proposal to appoint a task force to investigate early childhood education services in the city during its weekly meeting Monday evening.
The task force, which would be spearheaded by City Manager Richard C. Rossi, would identify a range of possible options for the expansion of early childhood services and explore the benefits and challenges of each.
According to the proposal, the task force will consist of 15 individuals, who range from government administration officials and leaders of community education programs. The task force will present its findings and recommendations by June 2015.
During public comment, former Massachusetts State Representative and former Cambridge Mayor Alice K. Wolf spoke in support of the task force. Wolf commented on the overwhelming amount of research that demonstrates the importance of early childhood education and noted the absence of these programs in Cambridge.
“It’s important for the children, for their families,” Wolf said. “Frankly, it’s important for the long term health of the community to have universal early education.”
Cambridge resident Emily Dexter also said that better early childhood education programs would help close the gap between the urban, underprivileged youth and children in the wealthier Cambridge suburbs.
“The positive effects of early childhood education will fail over time if students are not enrolled in high quality elementary schooling,” Dexter said
While almost all of the Council members agreed that early childhood education could be improved in the city, many of the council members took issue with the composition of the task force itself. Councillor Marc McGovern said that while he is pleased with the idea of having a task force, he was concerned with the lack of community representation on the panel.
“I want to make sure that we are not losing sight of the family home care providers in this conversation,” McGovern said. “They are going to be huge pieces of this puzzle.”
Councillor E. Denise Simmons echoed McGovern’s sentiments and said that she would like to see more individuals on the task force who were just parents.
However, Rossi said he wants to keep the task force small and is worried that including more members will make it hard to manage.
“I do not want to end up with a task force of 35 people,” Rossi said. “I just can’t begin to tell you that we would be successful.”
—Staff writer Arjun Byju can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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