Pre-K for PA campaign, Rendell and Schweiker urge 2018 election candidates to support pre-k investments to improve PA’s economic competitiveness
New report shows Pennsylvania ranks in bottom half of per capita investments in high-quality pre-k
Doylestown, PA (January 17, 2018)—During a news conference today, the Pre-K for PA Campaign, former Governors Edward G. Rendell, Mark S. Schweiker and Todd Alderfer, SVP/Commercial Lending of QNB Bank urged candidates for governor, the state legislature and U.S. Congress to support high-quality pre-k to improve Pennsylvania’s economic competitiveness. Year after year, the economy and education are among the top issues weighing on the minds of voters.
According to “Pre-K Works, So Why Not PA?” Pennsylvania ranks 18th out of 30 states that make public investments in high-quality, publicly funded pre-k, despite having increased its per capita investment by $30 million for the current fiscal year.
“We’ve got a big decision to make this November – as do voters in 12 of the 17 states that invest more than Pennsylvania – when we head the polls to elect a new governor,” said Rendell. “Candidates seeking public office must commit to getting Pennsylvania out of the bottom half of states and make it a top state for pre-k investments.”
“High-quality pre-kindergarten is not a luxury. It is an investment in Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Schweiker. “An educated workforce is essential if Pennsylvania hopes to compete in the regional and global marketplace, and high-quality pre-k helps prepare our future workforce for success.”
Presently only 36 percent of eligible children in Pennsylvania benefit from the opportunity, according to the report. Without expanded access, school success and skill development for early learners will be weakened, ultimately compromising the state’s ability to develop a stronger workforce.
Joan Benso, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, noted that a mix of red and blue states invest more per capita than Pennsylvania including Maryland, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia.
“We know that pre-k works and the widespread, bipartisan support it enjoys is undeniable,” she said. “Candidates who support stronger state investments will be proposing a winning combination for voters on both fronts and will enjoy support from a broad array of business leaders.”
Alderfer added, “As a local business leader, I understand the value of high-quality pre-k and its return on investment for Bucks County and the Commonwealth. Creating a competitive economic advantage for Pennsylvania starts with strong investments in high-quality, publicly funded pre-k.”
To reach all children who would most benefit, state policymakers should invest $85 million in the 2018-19 fiscal year to double the expansion of the last three years, and grow the investment with an additional $225 million by the 2020-21 fiscal year to serve all at-risk children.
“Pre-K Works, So Why Not PA?” can be found at www.papartnerships.org/prekinpa.