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Senate Education Leader Proposes Own "4 X 4" Education Program

The chairman of the Senate Education Committee is proposing her own "4 by 4" education program in an effort to better prepare students and teachers for the demands of today's classrooms.

"We need to provide our students and teachers with what they need to succeed. We can't just wave a magic wand, order them to do better and expect it to happen," said Senator Penny Williams.

The Williams "4 by 4" program would pump additional resources into four crucial areas of education:

  • $4 million for early childhood education and reading readiness programs;
  • $4 million for "next grade readiness" (programs that help ensure a student has achieved the necessary competence to advance to the next grade);
  • $4 million for innovation and the professional development of teachers;
  • $4 million for academic and advanced placement opportunities for students (allowing students to earn college credit while still high school).

"I think this '4 by 4' program hits on the real challenges we currently face in the classroom. We cannot expect all of our students, or all of our teachers for that matter, to advance automatically to the next level of proficiency without extra help along the way," noted Senator Williams.

The investment in early childhood education and reading programs would help prepare youngsters for their first experience in schools.

"So many children enter kindergarten or first grade without many learning skills, and consequently they quickly fall behind their fellow students who have worked at developing those skills. If they don't start off on the right foot, they can become problem students of tomorrow," noted Senator Williams.

The investment in "next grade readiness" (summer school programs, tutorials, etc.) would help students who may not be properly prepared to advance to the next level.

"Too many times it seems we move children on when they're not ready and they don't succeed. And then we wonder why we have to offer remedial courses in college at far greater expense. We need to focus some resources on kids who are having problems and make sure they're fully prepared before they jump to the next grade," said Senator Williams.

Recognizing that some students excel beyond their grade level, the Senate education leader is also advocating additional investments in Advanced Placement where high school students could earn college credit before they graduate.

"If a high school student is ready to move on to college-level courses, we should encourage them to do so and reward them with the credits they earn," said Senator Williams.

The continued academic and professional development of teachers is equally important, according to the Tulsa legislator.

"Our teachers need as much attention as our students since they are the ones who are on the front lines. We need special institutes where teachers can deepen and broaden their own education, as well as hone their skills to meet the challenges they face in today's real world classrooms," said Senator Williams.

The $16 million "4 by 4" program would be financed with growth revenue and would not entail one new unfunded mandate.