Blog | May 29, 2018

Tennessee Mission: Readiness Member Applauds City of Memphis for Investing in Pre-K

City Ordinance will generate $6 million in funding for pre-K by 2022

Rear Admiral Vinson Smith and Diane Halstead
Admiral Smith (right) with Diane Halstead, ReadyNation Tennessee Project Director, at a February meeting of the Memphis Kiwanis Club

Rear Admiral (Ret.) Vinson E. Smith served in the U.S. Navy for 32 years. He retired from active duty in 2005 and currently serves as the Vice President of Operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis.

As a native Tennessean, I was thrilled that Memphis, Tennessee Mayor Jim Strickland signed a city ordinance on May 10 that will generate $6 million in funding for pre-K in the city by 2022. Specifically, the ordinance will redirect funding from expiring tax incentives and dedicate the equivalent revenues toward a fund for pre-K. I have worked extensively with young people in the Memphis area through my role with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis, and I strongly believe that this investment will provide children with a strong start that will help them grow up to be healthy and productive citizens.

In Tennessee, 73 percent of young people ages 17 to 24 are unable to serve in the military. As a retired military leader, I know that having a strong pool of recruits that are physically fit, of good character, and able to develop and operate cutting edge defense technologies is critical to our national security. High-quality pre-K programs help prepare children for later success by teaching healthy habits, encouraging positive social skills, and providing a strong academic foundation. We must invest in these programs now in order to ensure that our nation is prepared for the challenges of tomorrow.

I applaud Mayor Strickland and the City Council for understanding the value of long-term investments in high-quality pre-K programs. It is my hope that legislators throughout the country will follow suit and do more to provide every child with access to these programs. I look forward to continuing my work with Mission: Readiness to support high-quality pre-K programs and other investments in the next generation.

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