Express-Times Letter to Editor: Delayed State Budget Hurting Pre-k Programs

Back-to-school season is always exciting for a pre-K educator like me. I get to meet a new group of young learners who I know will benefit from the lifelong opportunity high-quality pre-K provides.

This year, however, my excitement is tinged with sadness because I know some 3- and 4-year-olds will be missing out on pre-K because of the lack of state funding and the absence of a state budget. As the governor and lawmakers continue to negotiate a budget that was due on July 1, young children are missing out on a pre-K opportunity they can never repeat.

In other words, an avoidable delay caused by grownups is having a lasting negative impact on our kids. Right now, only about one in six of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year-olds has access to high-quality pre-K, despite its proven benefits in preparing kids for success in kindergarten.

Even if Gov. Wolf gets the $120 million he wants, access would increase to just one in four kids. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s going to take several years of similar increases to make high-quality pre-K available to every family that wants it for their child.

It’s time for Wolf and lawmakers to enact a state budget that significantly increases pre-K access. I’ve seen the difference high-quality pre-K can have on a child’s learning and life, and I don’t want to see any more kids miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity.

Paula Espinal

Read the letter to the editor here.