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HUD secretary's visit puts spotlight on PRE4CLE (video)


The U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development will visit Cleveland on Tuesday to promote early childhood education and highlight a joint effort by CMSD and other providers to enroll more children in high-quality preschool.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro and Roberto Rodriguez, special assistant for education to President Obama, will appear at an invitation-only roundtable discussion in the morning at the Idea Center. The roundtable, which also will feature Mayor Frank G. Jackson and District CEO Eric Gordon, is intended to build support for investment in early learning before a White House summit on early childhood in December.
An advance team for the HUD secretary's visit checked out the Bingham Early Learning Center on Monday during classes. 

Castro and Rodriguez also will visit the Bingham Early Learning Center on Central Avenue.

Obama has made early childhood education a priority. Castro, who was appointed HUD secretary in July, presided over an expansion of early childhood education as mayor of San Antonio.

Cleveland is one of several cities selected for Cabinet visits. PRE4CLE, a new partnership between the school district and other providers, is working to make high-quality preschool -- as determined by state rankings -- available to as many 3- and 4-year-olds as possible. The initiative fulfills one of the promises made in The Cleveland Plan, a state-approved blueprint for education reform.

According to Case Western Reserve University research, only 2,857 Cleveland children ages 3 to 5, fewer than one in five, were enrolled in high-quality preschool last year.

PRE4CLE seeks to add 2,000 high-quality seats by 2016. CMSD added 260 seats this school year, raising its total to 1,020, while other providers in the network added 75.

Bingham, with a history that dates back more than 100 years, is run by the Centers for Families and Children. Bingham operates high-quality preschool and school-age programs for children ages 18 months to 10 years in space that the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority built for the school.

More than 100 children attend Bingham with the help from programs like Head Start and Cuyahoga County’s Invest in Children. The center started two new half-day classes for 3- to 5-year-olds this year with money from the state.

Bingham staff members take the “2,000 Day Pledge,” a reference to the critical developmental period from birth to the start of kindergarten. The staff members promise parents that before the time elapses, their children will be prepared socially and emotionally for school.

“We help them with walking down the hall, talking with other children, sharing,” said Anita Sabolik, the site manager. “Without that, they can’t learn.”

As an advance team for Castro’s visit checked out Bingham on Monday, Brooke Davis sat in the office filling out paperwork for three of her children.

Davis was bringing the children back to the school after changes in her work schedule prompted the family to briefly try another center. She said that with help from Bingham, her 2-year-old daughter knows her colors and alphabet and can count to 10.

“They learn more here,” Davis said.