GUEST BLOG: Preschool funding

By John Schmader
Retired brigadier general with the U.S. Army

As a retired U.S. Army brigadier general, I know well about investments in our nation’s security. I think Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed budget jeopardizes one of the most critical investments for our state and country’s future: early childhood education.

In Kansas, seven out of 10 young adults ages 17 to 24 are not eligible to serve in the military. Poor education — failing to graduate from high school — is a leading disqualifier.

Research highlighted by the national security organization Mission: Readiness demonstrates that high-quality early education is a proven way to address academic underachievement. The governor’s budget, however, would dissolve funding dedicated to early childhood programs.

Private preschool in Kansas costs nearly $8,000 a year. This is more than many families can afford at a time when nearly 60 percent of Kansas 3- and 4-year-olds are not attending preschool, which is below the national average.

I strongly urge the state Legislature to reject the governor’s budget recommendation. We must ensure early childhood funding remains intact, giving children a greater chance to be successful in life and the opportunity to serve their nation in uniform, should they so choose.

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