Think back to your first job. Did you sit there on your first day not knowing what to do? Or did you have a head start due to your background knowledge. If you had to do it all over again, would you have brushed up a little before jumping straight in? How quickly were you able to advance?
Looking back, the opportunity to invest in your future feels like a no-brainer. You would take it. Now, apply that same type of logic to the children of the commonwealth. High-quality pre-k programs are the crash course beginnings that put children ahead, ultimately putting Pennsylvania ahead. Future employers would see cost cuts as well as better workers. Children in pre-k develop a host of skills including character and social development, conflict resolution, and even negotiation–all qualities that employers seek in future hires.
How does this benefit the entire state of Pennsylvania? The push for pre-k in Pennsylvania crafts students ready for kindergarten and sets the stage for success. Successful students turn into productive members of society. Pre-k investments save taxpayer dollars by reducing the need for special education and remedial instruction. At-risk children who attend high-quality pre-k are less likely to commit a crime later in life, cutting taxpayer costs associated with public safety and prosecution. Long-term, every dollar invested in high-quality pre-k amounts to money back in the commonwealth’s pocket.
You would think these benefits would make high quality pre-k an easy investment, but Pennsylvania ranks 18th out of 30 states that make public investments in high-quality pre-k. Other states are outpacing Pennsylvania, such as our neighboring states New York ($1,736), New Jersey ($3,277), Maryland ($1,005) and West Virginia ($2,248), who are investing much more per capita than the commonwealth ($792). In order, to grow Pennsylvania’s investment into high-quality pre-k, state policymakers need to make the smart investment to serve at-risk children. This would mean investing $85 million in the 2018-19 fiscal year to double the expansion of the last three year, and grow the investment with an additional $225 million by the 2020-21 fiscal year.
With a 1:4 return rate on taxpayer dollars spent, why not PA?
To learn more about the benefits of high-quality pre-k and why PA should make the investment, read the Why Not PA report.