In Mass., 1,100 and counting call for reversal of early education cuts
Community members have expressed frustration in response to Governor Charlie Baker vetoing $17.5 million in funding to early education, including a much needed $7.5 million to the struggling workforce. A petition that has garnered over 1100 supporters in just the last 2 days from across the state will be delivered to The Massachusetts State House and State Senate in an effort to push legislators to override Gov. Baker’s targeted line item cuts to early education funding.
Since 2001, early education and out-of-school-time programs have lost more than $148 million in state funding (adjusting for inflation). There were modest gains in the budget around early education funding, but those gains are in jeopardy.
We know that early education helps more children start kindergarten ready, and that residents from across the state strongly support investing in early education and preschool. We should be expanding these programs, not cutting them. Massachusetts Fair Share is especially troubled by the $7.5 million cut targeted at addressing early educator pay, as that investment is critical in stabilizing the field, which is in crisis.
Among the comments on the petition:
“Cuts in this service are short sighted. Research has documented that early education and care is a vital investment in our children and the benefits outweigh costs.” – Susan from Belmont
“Early ed. is one of the most important funding areas for government. You will save money fighting crime and housing prisoners in the long term. Please override Baker’s line-item veto of this educational item.” – Alice from Arlington
“An educator from the Middle East I met once told me that we Americans have it all wrong. We value Ph.D’s and spend as little as possible on early childhood education. Yet it’s the age before 5 that is so critical to the development of a person. And children are the future of the country. Massachusetts needs to give the best foundation possible to its children and that means spending on early childhood education in ways that can make a real difference.” – Dee from Lowell
Current and former teachers have also spoken out regarding the multi-million-dollar cuts to funding:
“As an Early Childhood Educator who has worked in the State for over 16 years, I have seen less and less funding. I work in Lowell, where many of our children/families struggle financially and the teachers absorb many of the costs that our schools and families cannot fund. By taking more money away from ECE, you are depriving the children of assistance from a paraprofessional who is essential in our Kindergarten classrooms. We are not only educators, but parents, caregivers, and confidants.” – Tara from Lowell
“More money should be allowed for Early Childhood education. This is where we need to close the gap in education. As a kindergarten teacher I see more and more students coming into kindergarten with no prior early childhood experience. When they start kindergarten they are already behind many of their classmates. We need to offer more full day preschool and programs to those in early childhood!” – Heather from Worcester
We can do better. Every child deserves the same strong start.