Our United Voice

Early Childhood Education - The Rest of The Story!

Friday, February 7, 2014

By Joe Tolan
Last Thursday, Business First published an article entitled "The Point of Preschool."  First, I want to applaud Business First for speaking about this national issue that affects our community's children and our future. As you may know, I have a personal passion to help change the odds. And Metro United Way is doing just that through programs such as our Excellence Academy early learning centers.

In fact, we've recently been designated by Mayor Greg Fischer's office to serve as the convener for Early Childhood Education in our local community's joint "cradle to career" pipeline efforts.

I was glad to see that the Business First editors clearly identify the significant gaps in readiness found in children coming from private childcare programs versus other programs. But, I was disappointed that the subsequent space devoted to a variety of readiness initiatives in our community ignored the critical and substantial work being achieved in non-profit centers that helps our more disadvantaged children as well; this is a lost opportunity to educate and inform the readers of Business First within the context of the “big picture," or as US Education Secretary Arne Duncan refers to it, "how preschool got hot!"

Earlier this week, Secretary Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a conference call with over 1,200 participants to discuss early learning efforts across the country and the importance that every child has the tools they need to be successful. Beginning his comments, Secretary Duncan called this "the ultimate bipartisan issue" and reported that over 1 million children nationally are not ready, specifically citing the Kentucky statistics released last week that 51% of our most precious resources are behind when they enter kindergarten. He closed his remarks with a call for us nationally to "Be good teammates. Be good partners. But break outside of our silos. Challenge each other"!

And so I warmly challenge everyone in the community to be aware of the rest of the story, inclusive of nonprofits, and Metro United Way’s role in changing the odds for many of our kids most at risk, proving that with the right tools every child can succeed.  We’re working to make it happen every day. What stories can YOU share about how you see the odds are being changed across our community?

Joe Tolan Signautre
Joe Tolan

Joe Tolan is the President and CEO of Metro United Way. A  native of New York City, Joe pursued a career in social work and earned his  masters degree in Social Work from Loyola University. He’s been with Metro United Way since the mid-80’s where he served in several positions, including Chief Operating Officer, prior to assuming his current role as president and CEO. 

Joe has served on numerous boards and community task forces throughout Louisville. Currently, he serves on the boards of The Housing Partnership, The WLKY Bell Awards Foundation, the West Louisville Economic Advisory Board and more.  Joe is married to Terry and is the proud father of three daughters

Joe can be reached at Joseph.Tolan@MetroUnitedWay.org

1 comment

  1. Having listened to the Sec Duncan call last week, LOVED that there was a lot of talk about how we all have to be one team and work together, even within early childhood education circles. It indeed will take a joint effort. Also loved that he acknowledged that the best ideas come from the community level!


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