Erie Times: Letter to the Editor: Legislature should back more pre-K

As a third-grade teacher in Erie, I see every day the value of high-quality prekindergarten.

I can usually spot right away which of my students had access to high-quality prekindergarten access for 3- and 4-year-old children.

The vast majority of those kids who did have access to pre-K were ready to learn when they entered kindergarten, and by the time they reached my classroom, they were socially aware and advancing academically at an appropriate pace. My students who didn’t have the advantage of attending a high-quality pre-K often need remedial work, and the achievement gap at times seems too wide for them to overcome. With some students, I find myself wondering, what if they had the same advantage as their peers? How unfair it is that they didn’t.

In the ongoing budget negotiations in Harrisburg described recently by Sen. Sean Wiley in “Why I support Wolf’s budget veto” (July 8), we don’t learn that the Legislature has proposed increasing pre-K funding by $30 million to serve another 3,500 children, while the governor wants to increase funding by $120 million to serve another 14,000.

Both are obvious improvements, but given there are still more than 200,000 Pennsylvania 3- and 4-year-olds who lack access to high-quality pre-K, we ought to be making the most aggressive investments possible to expand access.

Over the past several years, teachers have struggled to make ends meet in the classroom. It’s frustrating, but not as frustrating as when we see a bright young student’s bulb dimmed before he ever got a chance to shine. High-quality pre-K can make a difference and is proven to prepare a student for a brighter future.

I urge leaders in Harrisburg to see the light before the final act of this year’s budget saga.

Kim Lesik|Cambridge Springs

Read the Letter to the Editor  here.