Main Line Suburban Times: LTE: Pre-K for PA – Getting Bang for Your Tax Bucks
June 19, 2017
To the Editor:
“No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks!” Do you remember chanting this each June as I do? Well, for are most vulnerable pre-K students in Radnor, there may be no pencils, books, or teachers in their near future.
Would you believe that 139 Radnor 3- and 4-year who qualify for publicly funded, high-quality pre-K have not one single funded seat? In Delaware County, we need 231 more classrooms to serve every eligible child. According to the Pennsylvania Partnership for Children, nearly two-thirds of the children who qualify for pre-K education are shut out.
Why high-quality pre-K? It works! Early learning helps children to build the foundation for academics, social behavior, and emotional health. Because the brain develops most rapidly between birth and age 5, the right kind of environment makes a difference that lasts a lifetime. Children who have high-quality preschool are:
• More likely to advance grades in school and have improved social skills;
• Less likely to need special education placements;
• More likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college, amping up their employment possibilities and lifetime earning potential; and
• Less likely to commit crimes later in life.
By reducing needs through high quality pre-K learning, every dollar spent returns $17 in long-term savings and benefits. Educators spend less time, energy and tax dollars remediating needs that could have been mitigated by pre-K opportunities. Everyone reaps the rewards when all children, especially those who start life with disadvantages, are given a chance to succeed.
Data like this has prompted State legislators and policy makers to expand access for pre-K learning. Although Governor Wolf prioritized pre-K in his proposed budget, the recently passed House budget reduced new investments by two-thirds and cut childcare by $28 million. Now is the time to contact your Pennsylvania legislators and urge them to invest in our children and our future. Call for the additional funds to serve an additional 8400 eligible children and improve childcare with an additional $35 million. Our tax dollars reap lifelong benefits when spent for eligible pre-K students along with their pencils, their books and hopefully their teacher’s nurturing looks!
Read the letter to the editor here.