Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County CEO Dave McGerald writes to the editors of the Tampa Bay Times:
Let’s do the math on voluntary prekindergarten funding. When the VPK program began in 2005, the per pupil rate was $2,500 per child. Two years later, in 2007, it was $2,711 per child. If that increase had continued, the rate for 2014 would be over $3,446 today; it’s actually $2,461……Unfortunately, our legislators not only cut funding over the years but they have also cut quality requirements (class size and ratio) since 2007. …..At this rate, we will finally get back to the 2007 rate in 2020. We simply cannot expect our dedicated early-learning providers to continue to subsidize state-required quality improvements. Unfunded mandates should not fool us; words are only words until someone takes action, and we have yet to see any of that……..A $1,000 per child increase would pull us out of our bottom-of-the-barrel ranking across the nation. It’s time to take bold action.s
For quite some time, many have found the lack of interest by Florida republicans in Pre-K education to be puzzling. Especially with the existence of countless scholarly studies. Maybe its just that the Pre-K industry doesn’t contribute to their campaign coffers like charter schools do.