Citizens Voice: LTE: Policy Makers Need to Expand Pre-K Services

February 25, 2016

It was disappointing to read that 80 percent of Luzerne County’s 3- and 4-year old children lack access to a high quality pre-K (Jan. 20). The article summarized the school readiness and cost savings benefits associated with further investments in pre-K, but it neglected to mention the impact on future national security.

The sad reality is that more than 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s young people cannot enlist in the Armed Forces. Inadequate education, criminal record and/or obesity are the principal disqualifiers.

For years, military leaders associated with the national security nonprofit organization Mission: Readiness have called for greater access to pre-K to help reverse this trend and ensure that our next generation has the skills, health and character needed to succeed both in military service and our civilian workforce.

As part of the 2016-17 state budget, our state policy makers have the opportunity to expand pre-K services to an additional 14,000 at-risk children. Investing in this next generation that one day will fill the ranks of our military and civilian workforce must be a priority.

Joseph F. Perugino