We stand up for a Massachusetts where everyone gets a fair shot, does and pays their fair share, and plays by the same rules.
The Senate released their budget on Wednesday, and I was pleased to see they increased the funding for preschool access.
We know that early education is a smart investment. It helps kids succeed and reduces the achievement gap. We also know that tens of thousands of children don’t have access to early education, and are at risk of starting kindergarten already behind.
The Senate’s draft budget would invest $17.5 million to shrink the wait list for preschool assistance, and was $7.5 million more than the amount passed by the House. The Senate estimates that this would put another 3,000 kids into preschool classrooms.
For those 3,000 families, this is terrific news. I have worked with parents who received that preschool assistance — it’s a game-changer. But with a 30,000-name long wait list for preschool access, we still have more work do. The only way we’ll catch up to state with universal coverage, like Oklahoma, is if we continue to invest, making this $17.5 million investment another step forward, and not the finish line.
Massachusetts Fair Share
(MetroWest Daily News, May 17)
I’m glad that the Senate budget committee approved $17.5 million to shrink the waiting list for preschool slots. It’s an important step in the right direction for our state. However, it’s important to remember that the wait list is 30,000 children long, and more needs to be done.
The benefits of early education are numerous. Kids who get an early start do better in school and go on to find higher-paying jobs as adults, while parents with children in cheap and effective pre-kindergarten programs have an easier time staying employed and contributing to the economy. It’s smart, and the right thing to do. Every kid deserves a strong start.
We shouldn’t be content to let a program this important go only half-funded.
We need to keep pushing for statewide early education in Massachusetts. Let’s hope our leaders on Beacon Hill continue to move this issue forward.
Massachusetts Fair Share, Carlisle
(Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise, May 17)
State Sen. Marc Pacheco of Taunton recently called the cited costs of $1.5 billion to fund statewide pre-K education “exaggerated,” and he’s got a point (Taunton Daily Gazette, May 13). The fact is, there are a lot of ways we can make progress now to help more kids get access to preschool for a lot less than $1.5 billion.
An investment of $25 million in expanding access and shrinking the wait list for preschool slots would put about 2,700 kids into classrooms. These kinds of smaller steps are easily done, and can lead to large improvements. Investments in early education save us money over the long-haul due to the positive impacts of improved early education. It’s smart, and it’s the right thing to do: Every child deserves a strong start.
This is not an unsolvable problem; states like Oklahoma already have statewide early education programs, so we can do this too. Massachusetts can fund preschool education without having to take the most expensive route to do so.
Massachusetts Fair Share
(Taunton Daily Gazette, May 13)