Massachusetts Fair Share

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Early Education Wins on the Ballot in Seattle and Denver

By Cat Sidor

You may have missed it, but this week’s election brought some good news on the early education front. Voters in Seattle, Washington and Denver, Colorado voted to increase local investment in their preschool programs … and to increase their own taxes to do so.

It’s evidence that people are beginning to understand the value of proving all children a strong start.

MayorEdMurray

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

Seattle in favor of tax raise for pilot preschool program

Seattle voted to raise property taxes to pay for city-subsidized preschool – and did so by a 2:1 margin. These taxes will pay for a four-year preschool pilot program. The program will raise preschool teacher pay and create a sliding scale funding support system for students.

“It’s an opportunity to do something about the dramatic differences in education outcomes between children of color and Caucasian children, poor children and children who come from wealthier families,” said Mayor Ed Murray.

The aim of this new program is to address some of the inequities of early education to give more children the strong start they need to thrive in school. It is clear that Seattle recognizes the importance and benefits of preschool for everyone, and are willing to raise their taxes to reap the benefits.

High quality early education in Denver

Denver voters approved a tax increase to fund the city’s preschool tuition assistance program. Adding a tax of 15 cents on every $100 purchase will allow the city to reinstate summer programming, and pay tuition for more 4 year olds.

Mayor of Denver Michael Hancock said, “The Denver Preschool Program has proven that high quality early childhood education helps prepare our children, no matter where they live or what color their skin, to enter kindergarten ready to learn.”

These two mayors get it: All children deserve a strong fair start in life, starting with early education.

Polls show similar support in Massachusetts and nationwide

It’s not just Seattle and Denver where early education enjoys broad support. In North Carolina a poll recently showed that voters there think they should be doing more to fund early education by nearly a 2:1 margin.

And just a few weeks ago, a WBUR poll in Massachusetts showed that 73% of Bay State residents support a comprehensive early education plan. The poll also showed that a majority of Massachusetts would be willing to raise taxes to provide for early education. This kind of support shows that Massachusetts is ready to take action to invest in early education and deal with the tens of thousands of children who are stuck on wait lists for public programs.

Everyone should have opportunity to attend and benefit from a quality early education. Voters support it, by wide margins. Research has proven time and time again that early education is a wise investment to be made. Seattle and Denver agree to the extent that they would raise their own taxes to invest in these programs. If Denver and Seattle can do it, why can’t Massachusetts?

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This entry was posted on November 7, 2014 by in early education.
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