Pittsburgh City Council members and education activists say it’s time for Pennsylvania lawmakers to prioritize affordable early childhood education in the state’s budget.
Pre-K for PA Coalition activists will travel to Harrisburg on June 14 to push for a sustainable source for publicly funded early childhood education.
They’re also supporting Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to expand funding for Pre-K Counts, a statewide program that provides subsidies for low-income families.
Councilman Dan Gilman said Monday he’s already exploring pre-K options for his three month old. Like Gilman, many advocates point to a correlation between Pre-K programs and a decreased likelihood of incarceration.
“(My son) is a lot more likely to have a lifetime of earning. He’s a lot less likely to be on welfare and other public subsidies. He’s a lot more likely to be an efficient reader in third grade,” he said. “We can go through all of the metrics and we know because of decisions I’m making now, we’re providing that opportunity.”
Council estimates Allegheny County currently serves 20,000 3- and 4-year-olds without access to publicly funded, high-quality pre-kindergarten programs.
Those figures include Jessica Conway of Squirrel Hill. The mom-of-two has a master’s degree in secondary education and worked at an early childhood education center in the city, but with her second baby, she had to quit. Conway said she was paying almost as much for tuition for her sons as she was making in income.
“This means that despite their genuine efforts, one of the best early childhood centers in this city is unable to keep employed a teacher in that very young family phase of life that they serve.”