Focus on Childhood Development

May 23, 2017 Juvy Dichoso

 

In 2011, we went to different public schools to look at the challenges the school communities faced. We engaged teachers, students, parents, and administrators, and together we created 89 reforms all designed around DOE’s mission: To prepare all children for life.

DOE has been hard at work reforming its entire culture for the better. Among the reforms they have started implementing is early childhood development. Research over the years has shown that it is critical to reach children between birth and 8 years old. These are formative years for children, where what they learn during this stage in life has a significant influence on the rest of their lives. How they learn to react to the world around them during this time likely is a precursor to academic achievement and to their transition to adult life.

I’m sure other parents are more than aware of this stage of life. My wife, First Lady Christine Calvo, saw how important it is to provide structured learning for our own children, and through her work in various community organizations saw it in other children as well. As the chairwoman of the Early Learning Council she has worked to help our island’s youngest learners. One of the council’s goals is something I proposed as well: universal pre-K for 4-year-olds.

For whatever reason, the previous Legislature, despite the evidence of critical need, turned my phased-in universal program proposal into a pilot program. Four schools enrolled four-year-olds into pre-K. I am again calling on the Legislature to scrap that micromanaging law and allow the Board of Education to make these decisions.

Another area of reform is in curriculum. Guam DOE has adopted rigorous standards, trained their workforce, instituted environments of open communication and collaboration, and even began decentralizing curriculum to the autonomy of schools and the flexibility and creativity that teachers should have over their classrooms.

We’re beginning to see trending data and anecdotal evidence that DOE’s efforts are paying off. Our children will be more prepared for adult life, and that means our future will be in good hands.

 

As a Guamanian who will watch as these children take over the reins of leadership of this island, I am optimistic that they’ll take us to its next heights based on the amazing work taking place at DOE. Thank you teachers, staff, principals, and assistant principals. Thank you to the Board of Education, the superintendent and his deputies, and the central staff for working with us and for your efforts day-in and day-out to reach our children.

One area that has been brought to the forefront in the last several months is the lack of skilled labor force on Guam in certain areas, while we continue to see a short-term solution to the increased rate of rejections of our H-2B Visa labor issues.

The issue here is that there are other opportunities outside of construction that are drawing out many of our talented and driven young men and women. Being a carpenter or mason is hard work, and we understand that not everyone wants to do this type of work, but we believe there are people who have the ability to do it AND use the skills in this industry to build a name and something more for themselves.

The Guam Department of Labor is working with the Guam Community College and Guam Trades Academy on programs to help people—on island and throughout the region—understand the opportunities here and capitalize on the opportunities available here. Look out for apprenticeship programs and other learning opportunities, as well as scholarships and grants that could help you get your foot in the door.

Un dangkulu na si Yu’us må’ase. God bless you, and God bless all the people of Guam.

Governor Eddie Baza Calvo

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