Letter to the editor: Money for pre-K a wise investment
Investment in high-quality early education is a crucial component in the development of communities across the state. I commend Gov. Tom Wolf for his proposed expansion of pre-K with an additional $40 million investment that will serve 4,400 more children statewide.
Despite this gain, 100,000 Pennsylvania preschoolers are still left out of this essential educational opportunity. As the leader of a foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life for Westmoreland County residents, I am challenging our legislative leaders to go further. Focusing on giving children the best prospects for success in their formal education should be a top priority.
Research validates high-quality pre-K as the program to ensure children develop the skills needed for success in school and in life. It is particularly valuable for preschoolers at greatest risk. Without the foundation provided by high-quality pre-K, the opportunity gap faced by children from economically disadvantaged circumstances widens each year.
Pennsylvania ranks 18th of 30 states investing in high-quality, publicly funded pre-K. New Jersey spends five times more per capita than Pennsylvania. West Virginia has offered universal pre-K access since 2012. If Pennsylvania wants to compete, we must put our future first.
I urge our state Legislature to fully fund this $40 million investment and develop a plan to cover all the state’s preschoolers. What could possibly be a smarter investment in the future well-being of this state than providing every child a strong educational foundation?
The writer is executive director of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County.