By Jan Carabeo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — a Pennsylvania state lawmaker from our area is pushing to make kindergarten mandatory in public schools and to improve the accessibility of Pre-K.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey are among the six states that do not have a law requiring school districts to provide kindergarten for young students.
Just because David Roubert isn’t in school yet doesn’t mean he’s not busy learning.
But he is already a bit behind. Yamel wanted to get her son into Pre-Kindergarten last September. But there was a waiting list and financially, a private pre-school wasn’t an option.
“That’s not even possible. We hardly make it through the month,” mother Yamel Roubert said.
Fortunately for David a headstart spot opened in time for next Fall.
“I was like thank you God, I was really praying about it,” his mother said.
Now one lawmaker has introduced legislation that would make it easier for parents like Yamel to access Pre-Kindergarten in Pennsylvania through more funding.
“The state for the first time really would be making a major investment of dollars in universal Pre-K,” says State Representative Brendan Boyle,
Wednesday Boyle held a hearing on his proposals.
While universal Pre-K wouldn’t be mandatory for school districts, kindergarten would become mandatory.
“Pennsylvania is one of the few states that doesn’t require kindergarten,” says Boyle. “This would require kindergarten and also provide the state funding to ensure that the mandate actually comes with teeth and has funding with it.”
Education experts who spoke Wednesday say a focus on education at a young age is vital.
“The fascinating thing is that children learn more in the first five years of life than in any other point, and we don’t really start investing in public education until they turn six and go to school,” says Sharon Easterling, Executive Director of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children.
Easterling says this legislation is a good way to start the conversation.
Yet, she’d like to see the proposal adjusted to include an emphasis on quality curriculum and staff.