The Finance Authority of Maine’s Bruce Wagner was spot on in his recent Maine Voices column (“Invest more in current programs as part of aiding Maine economy,” Aug. 10).

Maine’s next governor and incoming legislators must prioritize growing Maine’s workforce and improving the skills of our current and future workers if we are to be successful as a state and stay competitive in today’s global marketplace.

There is much to do – and much that is already being done by the many members of the MaineSpark Coalition to help Maine achieve our collective goal of having 60 percent of our adults earn a credential of value by 2025.

Mr. Wagner highlighted several strategies to put Maine on the trajectory to success. I agree wholeheartedly. I would also add a recommendation that is not always so evident: improving and growing access to high-quality early learning programs across all counties in Maine is one of the best workforce development tools we have. Be the program Early Head Start, Head Start, pre-K or high-quality child care that includes early learning, these programs have a tremendous $7 return on investment for every $1 spent. And the outcome data are clear and decisive: Kids who participate in high-quality early learning programs are more likely to be successful in school, less likely to need special education, more likely to graduate on time, more likely to seek postsecondary education and more likely to be employed as adults.

Maine also needs to invest in making sure our students are achieving the academic goals we set for them and continue to improve reading and math scores at every grade level, and ensure that there are pathways to that success for all learners.

Together we can do great things for our children today – who will be our business, community and state leaders of the future.

Ed Cervone

executive director, Educate Maine


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