An early learner shows her appreciation of Councilmember Cindy Bass for supporting Philly Pre-K.
Four-year-olds Aiden and Brooke stole the show at the five-year anniversary celebration of Philly Pre-K (PHLpreK). Mama Ingrid, their storied teacher, shared their impressive development since starting at Little Einsteins Early Learning Center, a high-quality child care program in Germantown.
The young children at Little Einsteins and the 136 other PHLpreK programs are building a foundation for lifelong learning thanks to highly skilled teachers, modern teaching techniques, and technology made possible by PHLpreK funds. More than 90% of parents or caregivers report that their children are better prepared for kindergarten because of PHLpreK. Already, the program has provided high-quality early childhood education for more than 10,000 3- and 4-year-olds in the city.
None of this would have happened if Mayor Kenney, members of Philadelphia City Council, and a band of allies rallied by PCCY had not secured the enactment of the soda tax a half decade ago.
PHLpreK is a game changer for children of color and the pre-K program operators who are 60% women or people of color. Few other public investments can point to the triple bottom line equity impact — enabling parents of color to enter and stay in the workforce, improving the outcomes of children from these families, and shoring up minority-owned businesses. All this explains the ambitious push by Mayor Kenney to expand the program by 700 more pre-K students for this September.
It’s a less rosy picture for pre-K in Harrisburg. So far, the leaders of the majority party in the General Assembly appear reluctant to dedicate even 1% of the state budget surplus toward quality pre-K. With a $3 billion surplus (yes, billion with a b) lawmakers can painlessly fund a $30 million expansion for early education — $25 million for PA’s lauded Pre-K Counts program and $5 million for Head Start. Without a tax increase, more than 3,000 3- and 4-year-olds would have access to high-quality child care and have started their journey toward success.
While some legislators are pounding away at unfounded election fraud claims, parents are struggling to get back to work. Lack of affordable, quality child care is a major barrier. This seems like a no-brainer for lawmakers: use the surplus to help parents get back to work by giving children safe, high quality places to learn and play.
If local communities are willing to tax themselves a little more to fund quality early education, state lawmakers should be far less reluctant to put “found money” toward a popular and important program. Send them an email today (see “Advocate and Serve“) and show them you support their vote for pre-K and Head Start.