Governor Deval Patrick paid educators and children at the Franklin Early Education Center a visit Friday afternoon in Melrose.
Patrick, who was greeted in the lobby by parents, children as well as local and state officials, took a tour of the center before sitting down to read Dr. Seuss's "Sneetches on Beaches" to a small group of students.
The children appeared to be enjoying themselves during the governor's visit, laughing at different points during the reading, engaging with him by answering his questions and also having him answer a couple of theirs.
Prior to his trip to the Early Childhood Center, Patrick said he has visited Memorial Hall a couple times, Melrose High School, Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School and other locations in the city.
The purpose of Patrick's visit to the center was to discuss the importance of investing in early education.
"We are calling attention to the proposal I have made to invest in early education to get the 33,000 kids who are on wait lists around the commonwealth off those wait lists and into programs just like this one here," Patrick said.
The governor’s fiscal 2014 budget calls for increased investments in high-quality education in the Commonwealth, according to a press statement by the governor's office.
"A $131 million investment in the early education and care system will provide funding to work to eliminate the Department of Early Education and Care’s (EEC) current birth to age-five waitlist; expand initiatives to ensure the highest educational quality among providers of early education and care; assist early educators and providers with attaining higher levels of proficiency, skill and quality; increase educational programs and supports for parents and family members to further engage them in their child’s success; and expand efforts to provide comprehensive support services to children and their families," reads the statement.
Of his experience in Melrose Friday at the Early Childhood Center, Patrick called it "magical."
"They are doing such wonderful work, and you can see it in the kids, you hear it in the stories from some of the parents and teachers I talked to and it confirms what all the research says, which is investing at the 3-to-4-year-old stage," Patrick said. "In fact, many studies show even earlier pays off in terms of readiness for school and achievement throughout school and later on in life."
Among the local and state officials in attendance for the governor's visit were Sen. Katherine Clark, State Rep. Paul Brodeur, Mayor Rob Dolan and members of the Board of Aldermen and the School Committee.
Earlier in the day, Patrick also visited the Bentley School in Salem. During the schools tour, he was accompanied by Education Secretary Matt Malone.