Tracey Sparrow says she often tells people involved in early childhood programs that they are doing the most important work anyone can do.
Many others can make claims about the importance of their work, so let’s not get hung up on a competition about importance. Instead, take Sparrow’s thought as a challenge to our priorities, both in terms of public policy and our personal lives. She’s making a valuable point — it’s hugely important to give infants, toddlers, and kids up through kindergarten age a good start in life.
Sparrow is president of Next Door, a nonprofit whose services include two large centers with early childhood programs on the north side. Hundreds of children who take part in Next Door programs daily are from low-income homes. Almost all are non-white. Overall data shows that among children such as these, it is common to enter kindergarten already well-behind better-off kid