If you’ve been following the news from the states as campaign season kicks into high gear, maybe you’ve noticed a new trend. Early education is a hot issue for candidates from both parties. Ideas for expanding opportunities for early learning are showing up in ads, in debates and campaign stops all across the country.
- In Arkansas, candidates for governor Republican Asa Hutchinson and Democrat Mike Ross both tout plans to expand access to pre-K in the state and have tangled on the issue in debates.
- Michigan’s Republican governor Rick Snyder is running hard on the state’s expansion of preschool under his administration.
- A major issue in New Mexico politics this year is whether to draw funds from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to invest in early childhood education programs.
- Earlier this year, Ohio’s Republican governor John Kasich partnered with the Democratic mayor of Columbus to expand the city’s pre-K program. Kasich’s Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald has made early childhood education one of his top campaign issues.
- Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Democrat Martha Coakley has made universal pre-K a centerpiece of her campaign, while Republican Charlie Baker has pushed his own plan to expand access to early childhood education for poor children.
- The FFYF poll released in North Carolina last week continues to make waves in the state. This week an op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer and an editorial in the Rocky Mount Telegram called for more federal investments in the state’s Smart Start and Pre-K programs.
These are just a handful of the states where early childhood education has become a serious campaign issue. Candidates are learning that voters of all parties care deeply about this issue, they want progress on expanding opportunities for our youngest learners and they are willing to vote for candidates who agree.
We are thrilled to see the momentum that has built around early education. And after the election, FFYF will continue working to ensure that these proposals make the journey from campaign promises to concrete policies.