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Editorial: Bowman believed in children

053007/chicago BarbarBowman Chief Officer Office Early Childhood EducatiChicago Public Schools speaks summit based metropolitan family. (Bill Konway/Daily Southtown)  summit3/photocx

053007/chicago Barbara Bowman, Chief Officer, Office of Early Childhood Education, Chicago Public Schools, speaks at a summit based on the metropolitan family. (Bill Konway/Daily Southtown) summit3/photocx

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Updated: May 28, 2012 9:05AM

For more than 50 years, a singular and courageous voice has never wavered in her commitment to a powerful and proven idea:

By investing in early childhood education today, we’ll reap the benefits for generations to come.

One of the nation’s giants in early childhood education, Barbara T. Bowman, announced this week that she is stepping down as head of preschool education for CPS.

It is impossible to overstate her reach. On Wednesday, she was honored with letters from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and President Barack Obama — men she met on their way up, men she schooled in the value of quality early learning. In the 1960s, Bowman helped bring the Head Start program for low-income preschoolers to scale nationally and co-founded a graduate school to train its teachers. The Erikson Institute, which Bowman led for many years and where she’ll return, is now the nation’s leading graduate school in early childhood development.

At CPS, Bowman brought new rigor to the early learning programs and, most importantly, a relentless focus on investing early. That is her most important legacy, and one that CPS must continue in her absence.

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