Is there a special responsibility in being the first? Don’t we owe it to our children to show them that it is not necessarily the first one out of the starting gate but, instead the runner who takes the biggest strides that wins the race?

As I observed members of the Women’s Legislative Caucus at their first meeting of the session today, I found myself contemplating the special roles and burdens of being the first at something while also celebrating the possibilities inherent in breaking new ground. It was exciting to be in the room as a bi-partisan group of female senators and representatives congratulated Representative Jan Jones on her election as Speaker Pro Tem! And, it was gratifying to hear Representative Jones speak not only about her own plans but to also listen to her acknowledge that she hopes to set a pace for other women to follow.

In 1993, Georgia set the pace for pre-K programs around the country by establishing our universal lottery funded pre-K program, and we still lead the nation in total enrollment of four-year olds. Yet, we have more families who wish to enroll their children in Pre-K than we have slots available. And, other states have taking deeper strides to help the most at-risk young children by extending programs to three-year olds and targeting specific resources for maximum impact on state outcomes.

Wouldn’t it be exciting to celebrate another first during the new Speaker Pro Tem’s term and add enough Pre-K slots to eliminate the waiting list?