Sen. Alloway is lobbied to spend more on pre-k education
Alloway: Budget that doubles funding ‘not in the realm’ of the possible

By Jim Hook

jhook@publicopinionnews.com @JimHookPO on Twitter

CHAMBERSBURG >> An anti-crime group is asking Sen. Richard Alloway and other Pennsylvania legislators to spend more taxpayer money on pre-school education.

The bottom line for Fight Crime: Invest in Kids — quality early childhood education reduces crime, lowers prison costs and saves taxpayers’ dollars. The nonprofit arranged a meeting Monday at the St. Paul’s Children’s Center among Alloway, pre-school educators and local law enforcement officials.

Alloway, R-Chambersburg, on Monday appeared receptive, but did not commit to the cause.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposes increased spending on pre-k programs. The Democrat’s budget faces an uphill battle in the Republican controlled Senate and House.

Children who did not go to a quality preschool are more likely in later life to get trouble with the law than children who attended pre-k, according to a variety of studies.

“They get behind in second or third grade,” Chambersburg Police Chief David Arnold said. “It’s like a tsunami. They never get caught up. As a government, you put the emphasis on the front end rather than pay at the back end.”

“By third grade they’re already feeling like a failure,” said Gladys Leon, director of early childhood development at Chambersburg Area School District.

They don’t have a mentor showing them that they can succeed with an education, and they start caving to peer pressure, she said.

Investing in pre-school children encourages them to stay in school and participate in other school activities and sports, Franklin County Sheriff Dane Anthony said. The more they participate, the more successful they are in life.

“When you engage that child (in pre-kindergarten) you get that child’s parent involved, and you can make tremendous changes in communities,” said Kerry Fair, family engagement manager for Franklin County Head Start Program Inc.

Alloway said told the panel that he was familiar with the impacts of pre-k education, and wanted to know, “Where’s the breakdown?”

Few families have access to quality pre-k education in Pennsylvania and especially Franklin County, according to Bruce Clash, Pennsylvania director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Seventy percent of Pennsylvania children do not have access while 87 percent in Franklin County do not.

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