“The science has caught up to where we are today. We understand how important early childhood is to brain development and relationships,” Jaramillo said. “Now we’re seeing the results of early childhood education.”
With 80 percent of brain development happening in the first three years of a child’s life and state data showing that early childhood education can eliminate the achievement gap for low-income children, Doña Ana County has stopped waiting on Santa Fe for a plan to ramp up early childhood education, and is creating a model that has the potential to work in the rest of New Mexico.
In many ways, Doña Ana County is a good laboratory to experiment with efforts to increase access to early childhood education: Its demographics are similar to much of the state, though it has a higher poverty rate and the complication of mixed immigration status for some families. Half of its population is in Las Cruces, the second largest city in New Mexico, but the other half resides in rural communities that struggle to offer high-quality childhood programs. And, it has access to a research university.
“80% of brain development in first 3 years”…needs clarification, because there’s a LOT of brain development over a person’s lifetime, and no doubt there are different types of development that occur. Which is NOT to deny that the first three years of life are hugely important…but is to say, “so are the other years”.