Georgia education officials are traveling the state this summer to scope out potential Early Education Empowerment Zones. Each chosen region will receive more than $1 million to beef up early education programs.
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Officials with Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning have identified eleven potential zones. They will narrow that number down to four. As DECAL meets with stakeholders in each region, Deputy Commissioner for System Reform Kristen Bernhard says the agency is looking for a willingness to collaborate.
“There’s certainly a lot of people who are interested in early childhood,” Bernhard says. “But, are we willing to work as a team together on early childhood? We don’t want to see 15 different entities all doing their own individual thing in this space. We’d really like to think about how can we pursue those together collectively?”
Mindy Binderman is the executive director of the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students. She says the empowerment zones will serve as laboratories, where experts and communities can measure effective strategies.
“They give Georgia the opportunity to really focus some resources on some areas of high need in a way that is a little more comprehensive than we’re able to do across a big state,” Binderman says.
DECAL expects to name the zones by September. They will be multi-county areas with 10,000 children under the age of five.