Edgar Soto has been selected as the First Things First Pima South Region Champion for Young Children. The award is given to local champions who are going above and beyond in their efforts for young children from birth to age 5.
Soto is a lifelong Tucsonan and the Vice President at Pima Community College Desert Vista Campus. Soto has been employed with the college for over 20 years, where he has served as a key player in the recent relaunching of the Desert Vista Early Learning Center for student parents. Although Soto works in higher education, he is a vocal supporter of early childhood education and the importance of the first five years.
We recently spoke with Soto.
QUESTION: Why do you advocate for young children and early childhood education?
ANSWER: I was a middle school teacher for six years and back then I used to primarily focus on K-12. I thought we just needed to put more money into the K-12 system.
That’s all I knew at the time but I’ve evolved a lot since then. I’ve seen the data and I realize we need to be putting more funding into preschool and early education. K-12 won’t matter if you haven’t built that strong foundation early on. I’m passionate about this. I will be an advocate for early childhood for the rest of my life.
QUESTION: What is the benefit of investing in early childhood education?
ANSWER: Investing in early childhood pays you back in the end. You put in a little early on and you get a lot back. Dollars are saved down the road. You’re putting those kids on a pathway to prosperity. For adults, access to child care is something that can make or break a student.
We see it here at Pima Community College. Some of our students don’t have anyone in their lives who can watch their child if they need to work a little later or study a little longer. It’s so important that we have quality, affordable child care so that people can continue to follow their dreams.
QUESTION: Why should other people care about early childhood education?
ANSWER: I have a background in athletics and in athletics we use the term, prehabilitation. A lot of times you think about rehabilitation and treating the injury after it’s already happened, but if you had done the steps and preparation prior to that, you would not have gotten injured.
I view early childhood education as our prehabilitation as a society. Early childhood education is a way to make sure that we have functioning, healthy human beings who are going to be ready to receive the world in a positive way and contribute to our community.