Former Governor Schweiker Calls for Investment in Pre-k, Encourages Supporters to Stay Energized

Panelists Discuss Power and Politics of Pre-k

ERIE (August 14, 2015)– Former Governor Mark Schweiker opened the 2015 Kiwanis Early Education Summit, as part of the Pennsylvania District of Kiwanis International Annual convention at the Erie County Convention Center today with a continued call for significant investment in early learning and a repeated call to action to pre-k supporters.

“Stay energized, be intelligently persistent and we will be successful,” exclaimed former Governor Mark Schweiker to a crowd of about 300 Kiwanians and Pre-K for PA supporters. “There is a great impasse in Harrisburg, but I’m optimistic—I’m bullish about this. $120 million is a good start, which means 14,000 kids have a shot to get into a high-quality classroom. The intellectual and human and social development and opportunities for these kids is immense.”

The six-weeklong state budget impasse has left Pre-K Counts recipients without state funding, and a $120 million new pre-k investment hangs in the balance.

“We have a growing bipartisan coalition behind this,” said former Governor Schweiker. “This isn’t some off to the side political pursuit or a break the bank pursuit. We think it’s an affordable commitment. We’re talking $120 million in a general fund budget north of $29 billion. It’s not going to break the bank. I would argue in the out years that it’s going to save dollars.”

Schweiker continued: “If we do this right, and the idea is a steady march, in four or five years we are close to 170,000 kids. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we will get there. We have to go in the right direction, because as you know, the academic and human development payoff is tremendous.”

Co-Chairs of the NW PA Pre-K for PA campaign, Ron DiNicola and Nick Scott, Jr., moderated two panels following Gov. Schweiker’s keynote address.

PANEL:                   The Case for Early Learning

Moderator: Nick Scott, Jr.

Dr. Karen Tyler, ED.D, Head of School, Erie Day School

Mr. Michael Palzony, Sr. Vice-President, Erie Family Life Division & Member, Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission

Dr. Joyce Miller, PH.D, CEO, Northwest Institute of Research

Ms. Betsy Bort, Sr. Vice-President, Erie Bank & Member, Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission


PANEL:                      Funding Education: The Politics of Early Learning

Moderator: Ron DiNicola

Mr. Mark Longetti, Pennsylvania State Representative

Dr. Jay Badams, Superintendent of Schools, Erie City School District

Ms. Donna Cooper, Executive Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth; Former PA Secretary for Policy and Planning


Kiwanis International is a global organization of members dedicated to serving the children of the world. Each community’s needs are different—so each Kiwanis club is different. By working together, members achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone. Kiwanians believe that when you give a child the chance to learn, experience, dream, grow, succeed, and thrive – great things happen.


Pre-K for PA was launched in 2014 with the vision that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k. This statewide coalition includes: Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children; Economy League of Greater Philadelphia; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; Mission: Readiness; Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children; Pennsylvania Head Start Association; Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children; Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children; Public Citizens for Children and Youth; and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.