Every child has worth. Every child should be given the tools and the chance to be successful. And that's why Pre-K education matters.

Over the past two years, we have played a significant role in creating 10 new Pre-K classes in Morgan County with the volunteer leadership of Committee Chairman Chuck Ard and the leadership in Montgomery of both State Sen. Arthur Orr and State Rep. Terri Collins. This year, the committee is applying for six new classes and the renewal of two others, bringing our total in Morgan County up to 20. The remaining are funded by the Office of School Readiness in Montgomery.

Former Chamber staffer Taylor Simmons and now current staffer Mandy Price support the volunteers who represent all three school systems in Morgan County and several Community Action Partnership and church related organizations.

But why is the Chamber so interested and making such an effort to create an opportunity for every kid in Morgan County to have Pre-K access available?

It has been proven that kids who have a Pre-K experience show very positive effects on achievement, grade retention and social behavior, even at age 10 and higher. They also show a more significant growth in emotional development and lower percentage of delinquency, drop out and crime.

If that were not enough to convince us to lead the effort, we now learn from a Feb. 4, article from Alabama Public Radio that "attending state- funded prekindergarten reduces the likelihood that students will end up in a special education program later on." This according to a study by researchers at Duke University.

The study examined 13 years' worth of data from students enrolled in "More at Four," a state- funded program for four year olds in North Carolina. By the third grade, the researchers found children in the program were 32 percent less likely to end up in a special education program. Children who were part of Start Strong, a health services program, saw a 10 percent drop.

That is why the Chamber, the Decatur-Morgan County Development Association, all three area public school systems and several public and private organizations and churches have made this commitment to the future of our children and our community with our Starting Strong Program.

Every child has worth. Every child should be given the tools and the chance to be successful. And that's why Pre-K education matters.

John Seymour is the president and CEO of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber. He has served in the role since coming to Decatur in 1991. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..