Tuesday, May 29, 2012

EDC breakfast stresses early education to ensure career success

FAIRFIELD — Business and civic leaders took in the oft-used message, “it takes a village” to educate a child during Thursday’s annual economic development breakfast focusing on the early years of a child’s life.

While the Solano Economic Development Corporation breakfasts take place monthly, this is the third annual event that focused on the need to start a positive path toward education while the child is young. It was emphasized by various speakers that the path, which starts at birth, can be helped by not only parents and educators, but the business community as well.

The one-hour event, hosted by First 5 Solano, took place at the Hilton Garden Inn.

“The early years matter. . . . Everyone has to help,” said Christina Arrostuto, executive director of First 5 Solano.

While most speakers stressed the early years, Jay Speck, superintendent of the Solano County Office of Education, talked about the mental paradigm shift between what college meant to his generation and what it means today.

“The world has changed . . . . We’ve got to start thinking that college doesn’t have to mean a four-year degree,” he said, referencing the importance of technical and trade schools in that shift.

The keynote speaker, Catherine Atkin, executive director of Preschool California, emphasized the need to connect the dots between the early years and career readiness. The early years are getting our greatest asset ready, Atkin said.

“Where can you put a scarce dollar?” she said when talking about business investments. “Put it in the early years and you will reap the benefits.”

Dilenna Harris, a Vacaville city councilwoman and executive director of the Solano County Library Foundation, spoke about the library’s efforts to increase literacy levels through its Literacy in Education Access Resource Network programs and delivered negative statistics that the U.S., California and Solano County face today.

  • One-third of the nation’s children start school unprepared to learn.
  • More than 40,000 Solano County residents are considered low-literate adults.
  • Solano County’s dropout rate is higher than the state’s at nearly 19 percent.

“Economic development requires an educated and literate workforce,” she said in her presentation.

The event also included the 2012 Family Friendly Business awards given to businesses that provide such things as lactation spaces for nursing mothers or family friendly activities and liberal time off for baby-bonding. This year’s winners are Ball Metal Beverage Corporation, Genentech, Jelly Belly, Kaiser Permanente, Meyer Corporation and State Farm Insurance.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or swinlow@dailyrepublic.net. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.