Parents are often worried about how their kids are doing compared to their peers. But before their children even enter kindergarten, there’s a checkbox on their school file that can predict a great deal about how they will perform.
It’s a simple yes or no: Did they attend high-quality pre-k?
For those on the frontlines, the difference is elementary.
“When a child enters kindergarten unable to recognize some letters and numbers, complete a puzzle, or lacks other skills that can set that child on a path to succeed in school, that child is at an unfair disadvantage,” said Dr. Paul Healey, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Principals Association (PPA).
This week PPA made an unambiguous declaration that success for public education must include pre-k when they revealed that 99% of Pennsylvania’s elementary school principals agree that publicly funded, high-quality pre-k was an important tool for preparing children for kindergarten, particularly those at risk.
“High-quality pre-k provides the opportunity for children to get ready for school, helping to build their early literacy skills, which provides children with the foundation to have stamina and skills to be successful in elementary school,” said Terri Koehler, Principal of West Pottsgrove Elementary School.
The PA principals’ perceptions jibe with growing research that proves the efficacy of pre-k for children from low-income families, helping to put them on even ground with their wealthier peers by the time they start school.
The Principals Association join a broad coalition of pre-k boosters who call for greater state funding increases. The coalition includes Republican and Democrat governors and legislators, business leaders, law enforcement officials, high-ranking military officers, pediatricians, and world-class athletes.
At a press conference this week held by Pre-K For PA (of which PCCY is a founding member), the campaign noted that funding was increased by $30 million in this year’s budget, amounting to 3,500 new seats.
But that still leaves two-thirds of eligible students (those at risk) out in the cold. That’s nearly 113,000 children.
Do you live in a suburban district? If so, then you live where you have the highest percentage of unmet need. In the suburbs, 74% of income eligible kids can’t access a pre-k, and so start their educational careers already behind.
And as any teacher will tell you, even one struggling student affects a whole classroom.
A recent study has shown that every dollar invested in pre-k results in $17 in long-term savings and benefits because those students are more likely to complete school and go to college, improving their employment opportunities and earning power while reducing social services costs.
But the budget impasse threatens gains made. Unless PA legislators find a way to pay for their priorities, children just starting pre-k could be sent home at the end of the month.
That’s when the money runs out.
That’s when the greater costs of failure start rising for every Pennsylvanian.
The U.S. Senate could vote to repeal ACA on Wednesday. Tell your members of Congress to declare their intentions to protect children and families should the bill reach the House.
“You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered. But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) admits partisanship trumps at least 9 reasons the ACA repeal plan shouldn’t even be considered.
SNAP helps kids succeed at school! “Our main results are that scores are notably lower when the exam falls near the end of the benefit cycle and when food stamps arrive on the four days immediately preceding the exam.”