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Tell U.S. Governors To Fund Universal Preschool

6,344 signatures toward our 30,000 Goal

21.15% Complete

Sponsor: The Literacy Site

America's inequality is soaring, but providing quality preschools in poor communities can bridge this growing divide

Inequality has become a central feature of American life. According to Pew Research Center, the wealth gap between America’s rich and poor more than doubled between 1989 and 2016, creating a situation where America’s highest earners net most of the country’s total income, despite comprising just 20 percent of the population. This leaves everyone else struggling to make do with the spoils, i.e. middle and lower-class wages that have barely budged in 50 years.1

Income disparities are especially stark in communities of color, where Black households earn just a fraction of the average White family. Researchers have found Black Americans at least twice as likely to be impoverished or unemployed than their White counterparts, triggering a devastating trickle-down effect that leaves White Americans with almost twice as much income and 13 times the wealth.1,2

Fortunately, we already know how to correct this glaring imbalance, which has left the U.S. with more inequality than any other G7 country. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, funding universal preschool would slash inequality by giving poor students equal access to the educational opportunities that wealthier (typically White) Americans already enjoy. In addition to bridging the gap between rich and poor, funding universal preschool would boost social mobility, reduce poverty and crime, improve college graduation rates, and even bolster tax revenues by helping disadvantaged Americans find better jobs.3

How can preschool possibly yield so many benefits? Studies point to the extremely fertile development of a child’s brain between ages 2-4, when toddlers begin practicing teamwork, problem-solving, and cognitive/ analytical skills. Kids who develop these skills early on –- i.e. in a quality preschool -- are also likely to practice them in adulthood. “If a child is not motivated to learn and engage early on in life, the more likely it is that when the child becomes an adult, he or she will fail in social and economic life,” writes professor (and Nobel Prize-winning economist) James Heckman.”3-5

But funding universal preschool on a national level still faces hurdles in Congress, largely because of the costs involved. This leaves us appealing to U.S. governors to invest in this long-term solution that more than pays for itself by addressing inequality, poverty, crime, and other social/economic ills that oppress millions of U.S. citizens. 4,6

Please sign the petition asking U.S. governors to commit to funding universal preschool. Education is a human right and, in this case, key to correcting a system that only allows certain people to thrive.

More information:

  1. 6 facts about economic inequality in the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, February 7, 2020
  2. Demographic trends and economic well-being,” Pew Research Center, June 26, 2016 
  3. The Best Thing We Could Do About Inequality Is Universal Preschool,” Bloomberg City Lab, July 17, 2013 
  4. The Case for Investing in Disadvantaged Young Children,” James Heckman, excerpted from "Big Ideas for Children: Investing in Our Nation’s Future,” 2008
  5. Kids Need an Early Start: Universal preschool education may be the best investment Americans can make in our children’s education – and our nation’s future,” Brookings, Sept. 1, 1999
  6. "The Benefits of Universal Access in Pre-K and “3-K for All,” The Century Foundation, April 28, 2017
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The Petition:

Dear U.S. governors,

We’re signing this petition to insist that you fund universal preschool. Not only is quality education a worthwhile investment – and indeed, a human right – for all kids, funding universal preschool will reduce the income inequality, poverty, crime, and many other social/economic issues that plague poor communities across the United States.

Universal preschool is a one-size-fits-all solution to many of these social/economic ills, according to multiple studies, which have found the life skills kids learn (or don’t learn) in preschool will serve them throughout their lives. Kids who practice teamwork, problem solving, critical/analytical thinking and other essential life skills in a quality pre-k program are practicing life skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

But toddlers who don’t have access to a quality preschool – which is often the case in disadvantage communities– miss out on this critical development window. This puts poor kids at an immediate disadvantage, not only in kindergarten but throughout their lives. Kids who don’t attend preschool do worse in school, drop out of college (if they attend at all), struggle with low-pay and unemployment, and – given the links between poverty, crime, and lacking education/work opportunity – are frequently nudged towards criminal behavior.

Funding universal preschool has the potential to level the playing field by providing all American children with access to a quality pre-K program, not just the lucky few who happen to be born into a privileged family or ZIP code that already provides one.


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