Affordable Pre-K

[This was originally posted on July 5, 2018]

Early childhood education is crucial for the development of our children and our city. Recently, a petition campaign for affordable pre-K was announced:…/kansas-city-mayor-sly-james-announces-pet…

This proposal could be wonderful, but we need more details I'd think before placing it on the ballot:

  1. Why are we using sales tax (and $30m per year of it) that are the taxes that regressively affect the poor the most and why not use property taxes--like a mill levy increase that allows property owners to support this

  2. How long will the tax be in existence... is it planned for a short number of years (say, 10) or will we establish it forever?

  3. Why aren't some (apparently, any?) of the 14 school districts involved in the conversation?

  4. How do we set accreditation standards for preschools/daycares that receive this funding... and can it go to even the most expensive preschools in the city that may have parents not in need of subsidy?

  5. Who runs this new department; does it have defined standards; do we outsource the work? That question really leads me back to the idea that this seems like our public education institutions, our school districts, need to be much more intricately involved before we generate a half-billion dollars or more to new programming for which we don't have clear direction.

One other point. If there have been public conversations about this, they've been hard to find. Scouring my emails since I started City Council, I haven't been notified or been able to determine a single meeting about this issue until Tuesday afternoon's press conference. I welcome public conversation, but it needs to be broad conversation--not just among a few groups that then tell us what they think.

I look forward to further discussion, as we all share the view that early childhood learning is vitally important for all children.


P.S. I will note some irony in the petition initiative effort being used here, which City Hall has consistently criticized over the last term, but can save those thoughts for another day.

[This was originally posted on July 5, 2018]