Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Edmonds Community College Center for Families Dedication
September 16, 2003

It’s great to be here for the grand opening of the Center for Families.

It’s probably a little unfair that I am here to celebrate the completion of this facility, since my wife Mona was here at the kickoff of the public campaign two years ago.

She became a big supporter of the Center through her role as co-chair of the Governor’s Commission on Early Learning. Your dean of Health and Human Services Mary Ellen O’Keefe served on that commission.

Mona did the hard work of helping start the campaign. Now I get to bask in the resulting success. The division of labor was the same in the birth of our children. Mona did all the hard work, and I get to enjoy Emily and Dylan!

This building is the result of an amazing amount of collaboration. State and federal government, business, art councils, and students have joined together to make this dream real. More than 360 individuals, corporations, organizations, and foundations contributed to the center.

Let’s recognize some of these contributions:
· The State of Washington provided more than $500,000
· The Edmonds Art Festival donated $10,000 for artwork, including a sculpture by local artist Janet Still
· Senator Patty Murray helped secure $170,000 from the federal Department of Education for equipment, toys and books
· Gifford Industries donated a special engraved lobby floor
· Mechanical Agents Inc. contributed special heating systems for the infant rooms
· Some talented horticulture students prepared play area and landscaping designs.
· And my favorite, Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream collaborated with the college’s culinary arts students to create a special ice cream for the center. We get a chance to sample their creation later in the day!

These individuals and groups worked together to make this center a reality. So many important programs will be going on in this center. Students will be able to bring their children here for quality child care. It will house everything from a training facility to demonstrate best practices in child care and parenting, to students learning to be early childhood educators. There will be parent education classes. And the center will provide a place for advanced seminars in child care strategies.

As school gets underway for another year, I am proud of the progress we’re making in education reform. Test scores just announced show just how far we’ve come in the past seven years.

In the 4th grade, 48 percent met the reading standard in 1997. This year, almost 67 percent met the standard. And in 1997, only 21.4 percent met the math standard. This year, 55.2 percent made the grade. Seventh graders have made great progress in writing. In 1997, 31.3 percent met the writing standard. This year, 54.6 percent passed.

The strategies for high academic achievement for all of our kids need to start way before the first day of school. The bonding, nurturing and educational experiences that children have from the day they are born relate directly to their later success in school and in life. Families need resources to support their parenting efforts. Children need high quality child care – both to support their development and so their parents can go to work confident that they are well cared for. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds need the boost provided by Head Start and ECEAP.

This center is the embodiment of what I’ve been talking about. Parent education and family support located in the same building with child care and preschool and Head Start. Families will greatly benefit from this full service organization.

For example, Allison and John Dortsch attended parent education classes with their twins Anna and Ian. They moved to Washington state to be closer to family after they had the twins. Their pediatrician recommended the Family Life Education Department at Edmonds C.C. Now they take a parent education class a week with their babies. John says this is an important part of the week—for both the little ones and for mom and dad. And their older daughter is enrolled in one of the college's cooperative preschools.

After 13 years, Marion Heard's position as an administrator at a university was eliminated. Although she'd recently earned her master's in Christian Counseling, she found that she needed to return to college to improve her chances of finding work. She discovered that after taking her first Family Support class, she really wanted to work with families, especially single parents. Marion knew that she was in the right place.

Tran Nguyen and Truc Hoang are pursuing higher education in the United States to ensure a better future for their 5-year old daughter Chou Chou. Tran and Truc both earned bachelor's degrees in business in Vietnam. Now they are starting over, establishing themselves in the United States in hopes of securing good careers.

So when they attended Edmonds Community College, they were glad to see so many parents on campus with children.

They have both earned associates degrees and transferred to Central Washington University-Lynnwood. Tran is a senior earning his business administration degree and she's a junior working on an accounting degree.

These are just three examples of the ways in which our students will benefit from the programs located at the Center for Families. Together, ordinary people have accomplished something extraordinary here. Today we celebrate that accomplishment.

To all of you, congratulations on this remarkable achievement. And thank you for letting me share in this important day. I’m looking forward to going home and telling Mona all about it.

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