Work to reach all 6,100 children age zero to 5 starts now

by Jim Boyle

The end of Wednesday’s Early Childhood Summit was described by Charlie Blesener as a beginning, something he said Plato had something to say about.

“The beginning is the most important part of the work,” the famous philosopher stated centuries ago.

Former Gov. Al Quie spoke to Superintendent Mark Bezek as Charlie Blesener looked on. Photo by Jim Boyle

Blesener, the Elk River Area School District’s director community engagement, said he couldn’t agree more. He wrapped up the summit with some insights into the local early childhood program, information on how to get involved in the Elk River Area Childhood Coalition and encouraged the entire community to help “us begin at the beginning for every single child.”

Blesener went on to say: “The beginning is the focus of the coalition and the early childhood ed programs.”

He also said the Elk River Area Childhood Coalition is built on two basic premises.

“We want to assure every single  child is ready for kindergarten,” Blesener said.

“We also want to increase the public awareness of early education and preparedness for school.”

He thanked former Gov. Al Quie, Kathy Gaalswyk and Superintendent Mark Bezek for helping start that process at the Early Childhood Summit. He asked the 100 or so in attendance to consider those children and families with disadvantages.

“For those of you who have achieved what you achieved, you probably grew up with some advantages,” Blesener said.

There are 6,100-some children age 5 years or younger in the Elk River Area School District, which Blesener said amounts to almost 10 percent of the district’s population at 64,000.

“Think of the disadvantages some of the children have, disadvantages that likely you didn’t have,” Blesener said. “Yet they’re going to show up on the first day of school like you or I did and they’re going to be expected to function the same way to a certain kind of norm.”