Wednesday, March 3, 2010

House Republicans Want to Cut Pre-K Education Funding

One of the reasons that Virginia has been recognized as a good state for businesses to relocate to is the plain and simple fact that our school systems are among the best in the country. Businesses like this because they would have access to a highly educated workforce and the children of employees that relocate would also be able to attend a great school system. As a result, anyone who cares about either their child’s education or the basic economy in the Commonwealth of Virginia has an interest in seeing our public schools remain fully funded. The Republicans in the House of Delegates, however, have given us yet another example of how maintaining our school systems simply isn’t one of their priorities.

Despite the fact that the Senate and even Republican Governor Bob McDonnell realized the importance of protecting the funding that goes to Pre-K education, the Republicans in the House of Delegates have proposed significant cuts to the program. What is extremely disgraceful about this proposal is that the cuts would hit areas with low-income families extremely hard due to a change in how funds would be allocated. Studies consistently show that pre-k programs are especially beneficial to students in low-income families and help the students succeed in school. The Republicans in the House of Delegates are therefore proposing to remove funds from the schools that need it the most at a time when we’re seeing just how important a good education is.

Despite the benefits that pre-k programs can provide to the community (especially low-income students), the Republicans appear to have no problem cutting the crucial funds to these programs. Del. Kirk Cox even told the Virginia Pilot that he thought the program was too big and that he essentially didn’t care enough about the benefits to low-income students to keep the program fully funded.
"Obviously, we felt that pre-K has grown too much in the Kaine years," said Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, a budget conferee and teacher.

Cox said that while early education can be helpful to low-income children, he is uncertain about its universal expansion.
Del. Cox’s remarks are a prime example of the thinking in the Republican caucus. They’d rather cut funding to our schools and programs that help low-income students before they even consider angering the right-wing base of the Republican Party. Now the Virginia Education Association (VEA) should pay attention here because at least one of the Republican candidates they endorsed in last year’s elections approved these cuts by voting for the budget. When you combine these cuts with the other hundreds of millions of dollars the House Republicans proposed cutting from education, I think it’s safe that no House Republican deserves the VEA endorsement when they’re up for re-election.

The 2011 General Assembly elections are still some time in the future, however, and education advocates should remained focused on preventing these cuts from going into effect. If you care about Virginia’s schools, I therefore encourage you to contact your General Assembly members and let them know that you oppose the House Republicans’ proposal to cut funding for pre-k education.

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