“While early education was certainly not the main story coming out of Tuesday’s election, a handful of cities and states cast votes that could have a significant impact on the future of education access for young children,” Aaron Loewenberg writes on New America’s EdCentral blog.
And in its weekly news roundup, NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research) reports that voters gave both a thumbs-up to some proposals, and a thumbs-down to others.
In two cases, voters rejected tax increases:
“In Missouri more than 60% of voters rejected a proposed increase in the cigarette tax to expand early childhood education beyond the current 3% of Missouri 4-year-olds enrolled in state-funded pre-K,” NIEER notes. “In Oregon, roughly 60% opposed Measure 97 to increase specific corporation taxes to boost funding for public early education, K-12, healthcare and senior services.”
But Cincinnati said yes to a tax hike.
“…by a margin of 62 percent to 32 percent, voters approved a property tax increase expected to raise $48 million a year for five years. Of the $48 million, $15 million will go towards the Preschool Promise initiative, which advocates claim will enable 6,000 students (about 80 percent of three- and four-year-olds) to access pre-K each year over the next five years,” New America says.
In addition: “the voters of Dayton approved an income tax increase by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent. The tax increase is expected to bring in an extra $11 million in annual revenue. About $4 million of that money will go towards expanding pre-K access to 1,900 four-year-olds in the city.”
And NIEER reports that the “Philadelphia City Council adopted the first municipal tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in the U.S. to finance universal preschool and other community services…”
Among the key supporters of early education, two supporters of large-scale pre-K expansions lost their elections.
In Indiana, the two gubernatorial candidates expressed different levels of support for early education, EdCentral explains. Democrat John Gregg “put forward an ambitious, $150 million plan designed to allow the state to offer voluntary pre-K access to 50 percent of the state’s four-year-olds by the year 2020.” Republican Eric Holcomb agreed with the need, but called for “a more modest pre-K expansion that prioritized pre-K access for low-income families. On Tuesday, Holcomb defeated Gregg by a margin of 52 percent to 45 percent.”
“On a related note, Glenda Ritz, the Democratic incumbent state schools chief who has publicly advocated for universal pre-K, was defeated by Republican challenger Jennifer McCormick by a final tally of about 53 percent to 47 percent.”
While some cities and states may go slow, preschool expansion plans are blooming across the country, including, NIEER says, in New York City which “has expanded high-quality, public preschool to all 4-year-olds so that roughly 70,000 children now attend regardless of income or neighborhood.”
Amidst the national growth of pre-K, NIEER notes:
“As communities move forward to meet the needs of young children and their families, focus should be maintained on ensuring high quality.” As NIEER says in an early childhood consensus letter signed by 1,200 researchers, “Quality programs produce quality life outcomes.”