The lack of universal pre-K is an epidemic

Lenoxx and Lucia Simonetti play and eat ice cream outdoors. Photo by Emily-Ann Trautman

Emily-Ann Trautman 

Assistant Photography Editor

etrautma@unca.edu 

Pre-kindergarten care should not be a luxury as many single parents struggle financially trying to balance their family budget. All parents want is to provide for their child with a safe place to be during the work day where their child can learn and socialize while getting used to a school environment.

Every family, single parent or not, deserves the ability to better their child’s education process equally despite their economic status.

According to the USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child Calculator, a single parent in the South raising a three year old who makes less than $52,000 is estimated to spend $11,731 on childcare. For a two parent household bringing in the same amount, it is estimated at $12,332.

According to Abbie Lieberman of New America, when children are placed into pre-K’s that have limited to low funding, the program does not give them the advantage of starting kindergarten with certain skills gained from pre-K. When they begin Kindergarten behind, it is difficult for many of the children to catch up leading to poor performance in school. This is where the public schooling system lets children down. Not everyone is on the same page or level of learning and understanding.

States simply do not have enough money to aid all of their pre-K programs while funding each equally, but this is what makes them both expensive and unequal in their educational programs. Government funding could solve both of those problems, making pre-K more affordable for families.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, states that express the intent to enroll all children all too often lose the political will to do so before they reach that goal, and fail to increase funding to keep enrollment expanding until it serves all who wish to enroll.

Overall, 56 percent of voters are pro government funding while 44 percent oppose. But the real split lies between Democrats and Republicans, who are 84 percent pro funding and 80 percent against, respectively.

The argument against funding is that by expanding universal pre-K, we spread the funding thinner and get poorer results from pre-K education.

But if we keep the existing state funding and the government covers what the states can’t, there would be no reason for money to be spread too thin. If we integrate pre-K into the K-12 system, there would be more of a chance of the program being available to all, regardless of economic status.

According to a study on pre-K programs conducted by NPR, the social skills gained in pre-K help prepare children for school and becomes the space where many children get familiar with instruction from a teacher and other aspects of the kindergarten curriculum.

Children of all families deserve these fundamental skills gained from pre-K. It should not be a luxury.

If we could get Republicans to side with the betterment of our children, we would find that government funding of universal pre-K will help families of all types.

The single parent wouldn’t have to struggle so much. The parents living paycheck to paycheck wouldn’t have to worry about how they can care for their child while they both work. Families could become more financially stable and most importantly, children would receive quality and equal education to prepare them for school.

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