Sunbury Daily Item: Editorial: Pre-k Puts Kids in Better Place
May 15, 2017

Lawmakers often say they are working to make the world a better place for our children.

If that’s the case, members of the state Legislature should take a close look at a proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf to boost pre-kindergarten funding by $75 million in the next state budget.

“Early childhood education is one of the most effective interventions we can make in the lives of our children,” the governor said. “It is proven that children who participate in high quality pre-K perform better in school later on. They graduate at higher rates, they learn more now, and they earn more later. Good early childhood education levels the playing field for high- and low-income students.”

In Wolf’s first two years in office, the state has increased spending on early childhood education by $60 million, to $147 million for pre-K and $49 million for Head Start. The additional $75 million proposed by Wolf would allow the program to add about 8,400 children, the governor’s office estimated.

A budget passed by the state House would boost spending on early childhood education, but it provides $50 million less than the Wolf proposal.

A spokesman for House Republicans said this week that GOP lawmakers are not convinced that preschools would be ready to ramp up quickly enough to effectively use the the boost in spending.

But others point out that Pennsylvania is lagging behind because the state does not spend as much on early childhood education as many other states. On a per-capita basis, New Jersey spends about $3,000 on early childhood education — four times as much as Pennsylvania does, according to Joan Benso, chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.

Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, a Republican, said its a good investment. About half of the inmates in Pennsylvania’s prison system dropped out of school, he noted.

“That’s the reason so many in law enforcement support this,” Freed said. “Studies show the programs work.”

It’s good advice for all of those looking to make Pennsylvania a better place for our children.