(WMC-TV) - Several local pastors are preaching a gospel of better Pre-K.
The religious leaders want lawmakers to increase investments in high quality pre-kindergarten programs.
The group of pastors held a meeting making their concerns known, sharing with community leaders what kind of difference they say Pre-K can make in a child's life.
Representing more than 100 faith-based leaders across Shelby County, members of a group calling themselves Shepherding the Next Generation came together Tuesday to encourage local leaders to strengthen early childhood education.
During a news conference at Ross Elementary, members cited research that shows how pre-kindergarten learning can positively impact a community.
"I truly believe that if we teach our children early that education is important, we don't have to convince them later," said Rev. DeAndre Brown, LifeLine to Success.
Kindergarten teacher Lauren McNairy said she sees the advantages firsthand.
"The benefits are when they come to kindergarten they already know alphabet sounds and sight words," said McNairy.
The pastors visited several Pre-K classrooms where students were busy reciting the alphabet using music.
Members of Shepherding the Next Generation then read and presented a special book to each classroom.
Leaders encouraged the community to actively support Pre-K and said early childhood education is the only way to prepare the next generation
Shepherding the Next Generation was formerly known as Clergy United for the Memphis Schools. The project is now a national group committed to speaking out on behalf of at risk children.