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Gradebook podcast: Are Florida’s 4-year-olds ready for school?

Early education advocate Lindsay Carson discusses what the state can do to improve youngsters’ school readiness.
Lindsay Carson, center, talks with Florida lawmakers in September about the state's early education system and what can be done to improve it. Carson chairs the state Early Learning Council and runs the Pinellas County Early Learning Coalition. [The Florida Channel]
Lindsay Carson, center, talks with Florida lawmakers in September about the state's early education system and what can be done to improve it. Carson chairs the state Early Learning Council and runs the Pinellas County Early Learning Coalition. [The Florida Channel]
Published Sep. 26, 2019

Florida voters approved a universal prekindergarten program back in 2002, after lawmakers refused to implement a an early education system to help prepare young children for school.

Since then, the program has grown in enrollment, but its funding has remained stagnant, and its success has been limited.

This year, state officials have called for improvements. With early learning on the front burner — it was the first topic of conversation for the House Education Committee as it heads to the 2020 legislative session — we turned to Pinellas County Early Learning Coalition CEO Lindsay Carson to discuss what needs to be done to fix the state’s prekindergarten and school readiness model.

Carson also chairs the state’s Association of Early Learning Coalitions. She spoke with reporter Jeff Solochek.

RELATED: Prekindergarten, early education get limelight from House committee

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  2. First Lady Casey DeSantis talks with students during the Hope for Healing a mental and substance abuse initiative held Roland Park K-8 School in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said state officials worked closely with DeSantis to craft the new rule. OCTAVIO JONES | Times
  3. In this Feb. 14, 2018, photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after a shooter opened fire on the campus.
  4. Pinellas County School Board member Carol Cook, left, celebrates her reelection to her fifth term in 2016. If ultimately approved, a term limits proposal would force Florida's school board members out after two consecutive terms.
  5. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini fields questions on the House floor on Feb. 19, 2020, about his proposal to ask voters to limit school board member terms.
  6. Chicken and vegetable dumplings with soy sauce were offered to students to test during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste-testing, Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at Pinellas Technical College. Twenty-eight new food items were tested and rated.  Some will be added to next year's school menus.
  7. Patrick Suiters, 10, left, and Gabriel Stanford, 9, both fourth-graders at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin, fill out a survey after tasting falafel tots and nuggets during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste test at Pinellas Technical College. About 120 students tasted and rated 28 new food items that could be added to school breakfast and lunch menus next year.
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  9. The Pinellas County school system is offering driver education camps to hundreds of students like this one over the summer. The program will be held over two sessions at nine high school campuses across the county.
  10. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020.
  11. Incoming Hillsborough School Superintendent Addison Davis (center), School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) and the other board members pose as Davis signs his contract with the district on Tuesday night. The board unanimously approved the contract beforehand.
  12. Jarvis Delon West was arrested on child neglect charges after he didn't report an employee at AMI Kids who slammed a boy to the ground, according to police.
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