State education secretary visits Springfield - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

State education secretary visits Springfield

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

The new State Education Secretary Matthew Malone met with education advocates in Springfield Thursday afternoon to talk about the governor's proposed investments in education for the 2014 fiscal year.

"This is a game-changing moment of our commonwealth," said Malone. "The time is now, it is our responsibility to invest in our future"

Dozens of education advocates from Springfield and Holyoke gathered at the Community School of Music to hear the newly-appointed secretary talk about the importance of passing the governor's $550 million education investment package for the upcoming fiscal year.

"We invest in early childhood, we will grow this economy," said Malone. "Reading proficiency by the end of third grade, that's the goal."

The package has a focus on early education, something Malone says could really make a difference here in Springfield where there are currently 11 level four schools.

"It's going to help places like Springfield greatly. Here's how: It's an investment in increased money to extend the learning time, which we know is a level four strategy. An investment to increase opportunities in English language, which we know is a level four opportunity," said Malone.

The city's president of the Education Association, Tim Collins, can't agree more, which is why he says he supports the governor's plan.

"We're making progress, but to make true progress we have to start earlier and I think this investment that the governor and the secretary are trying to make can pay some serious dividends," said Collins.

And in Holyoke where only 20 percent of fourth graders were reading proficiently at the start of the year, educators say an emphasis on early education could make all the difference.

"That's going to be the game changer," said Michael Moriarty, a member of the Holyoke school committee. "If the children know how to read when they go into fourth grade they're extremely successful, and if they don't they're extremely likely not to be successful."

Thursday Malone asked education advocates to call their local elected officials and urge them to pass the investment package.

Whether or not the budget passes is up to the state House and Senate.

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