Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Letter to the Editor: Investing in Pre-k is a Big Win for PA Children
March 22, 2019
In Gov. Tom Wolf’s recent budget 2019-2020 proposal, education was again a focus. As an elected school board member, I am glad to see our evolving understanding of the importance of funding the full continuum of high-quality early childhood education for all children. Specifically, the governor’s proposed investment of $50 million for high-quality pre-K is a big win for thousands of Pennsylvania’s youngest children.
In this current school year, Pittsburgh Public Schools was able to serve 74 additional pre-K children thanks to increases in last year’s state budget. We especially appreciated our local legislators who attended a classroom opening celebration with us, including Sen. Jay Costa, Rep. Ed Gainey and Rep. Dan Frankel.
As we look to next year’s budget, there are still over 500 income-eligible children in Pittsburgh who are missing out on the opportunity to attend high-quality pre-K. Statewide, there are nearly 98,000 children missing out. Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania must keep pushing until access reaches all at-risk children, and I hope that in this budget cycle our legislators push to continue to expand access to thousands more kids next year.
Finally, we must remember that many pre-K classrooms are located in STAR 3 and 4 child care providers, including dozens that Pittsburgh Public Schools partners with in order to meet the needs of families in our district. The proposed $50 million investment in pre-K programs should be celebrated, and we must also invest $50 million in child care as we know that learning begins long before children turn 3 years old. I am excited that the conversation around pre-K investment has elevated the focus on early learning, and I hope the legislature will invest accordingly.
The writer is the president of the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education
See the letter to the editor here.