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Children who attend the Caring Center in Mantua pose with signs supporting early education.

Pre-schoolers rally for early education in Philadelphia

Pre-schoolers, their parents and educators came together in Philadelphia to call on voters and elected officials to prioritize access to early education for…

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Dozens of pre-schools and daycare centers came together on Tuesday to sing, dance, draw and rally in Franklin Square Park as part of the Pre-K for PA campaign to influence voters and elected officials to prioritize accessible early education for Pennsylvania’s 3 and 4 year olds.  

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“We know that students, children, who have access to high-quality pre-k do better in school,” Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite said. “We also know that students who have access to high-quality pre-k learn to read by the time they’re in third grade. We also know that children who have access to high-quality pre-k get to graduation from high school.”

“25,000 children who are ages three and four do not have access to high-quality pre-k,” Hite said.

Musicians Puddle Jumpers, Peter Moses and Two of a Kind performed at the rally as kids, parents and educators helped to construct a giant movable mural of the children’s outlines to be displayed as Pre-K for PA travels throughout Pennsylvania.

The race for an education-friendly governor

So far, gubernatorial candidates Tom Corbett, Republican, and Tom Wolf, Democrat, have both boasted support for early education. Corbett’s campaign advertisements discuss how the governor increased funding by millions for Pre-K Counts, a program to provide free early education programs to eligible 3 and 4 year olds from families living within 300 percent of the poverty line, or less than $71,550 annually for a family of four. However, the program’s funding hasn’t actually increased in six years. In 2008, Pre-K Counts received $87.6 million, in 2012 its funding was cut to $78.6 million and raised back to $87.3 million in 2014. Wolf has proposed instituting a universal pre-k system, but has not yet elaborated on how the state could fund the proposal while also restoring the $1 billion gap in basic education funding.

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