I was heartened to read about schools in Moscow and Bingham promoting programs that teach young students how to manage their emotions (June 2). Those are important building blocks that teachers tell me are often missing in today’s students.

I have been in law enforcement my entire career, but it was joining the anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids over a decade ago that helped me better understand the link between high-quality early learning and later crime.

One of the benchmarks of high-quality early learning is teacher education and training – which is why I was pleased to support a legislative proposal earlier this session, L.D. 1321, that seeks to establish an early childhood consultation program to provide support and guidance to public preschools and child care teachers. These consultants will aid teachers and parents by sharing evidence-based strategies that work to reduce challenging behaviors and promote the social-emotional growth of our youngest children.

It is just common sense for Maine to invest resources to begin to address children’s challenging behaviors as early as possible. If left unaddressed, studies show that too many Maine kids are either kicked out of or asked to leave their early learning programs.

Maine’s rate of expelling children from early learning programs is the second highest in the country, according to the Yale Child Study Center; it is also 12 times higher than the expulsion rates in our K-12 system. Expelling a child doesn’t address or help correct the problem – it just shifts it to another setting.

Maine teachers need more training and support to help youngsters manage their emotions and develop programs like those in Moscow and Bingham. It is my hope that when the Legislature returns, policymakers will give final approval to L.D. 1321.

Michael Field

chief of police

Bath


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