State-funded preschool would benefit Kentucky’s current and future workforce, Rep. Josie Raymond says

With access to early childhood education being a top issue in Kentucky, Rep. Josie Raymond (D-Louisville) sat down with The Bottom Line to talk about the benefits of an optional, statewide pre-K program for the Commonwealth.

Raymond touched on the fact that Kentucky businesses continually struggle to find employees. She said in the short term, public pre-K statewide could allow more employees access to quality childcare, and in the long term, early childhood education prepares children with the essential skills needed to be good employees.

“It’s an investment in our children for sure,” Rep. Raymond said. “We know that kids who go to pre-K do better in school and are more likely to graduate from high school and college and get a high-paying job. These are the kind of employees we want in Kentucky.”

Raymond is teaming up with Rep. Steve Sheldon (R-Bowling Green) to propose a task force be formed with state, legislative, education, and business leaders to explore the issue. As for the cost of a statewide pre-K program, Rep. Raymond said it would be up to the task force to determine the funding model across the state.

“No one’s arguing with the data. We’re going to fight over the price tag for sure,” said Raymond. “I think it’s a matter of believing enough in the cause to be willing to engage in that fight.”

While the issue will not likely be taken up in the 2020 session, Rep. Raymond says she and Rep. Sheldon are confident in the support they have gained from initial conversations.

“When the chamber of commerce is talking about it, and school districts are talking about it, and teachers’ unions are talking about it, that’s an incredibly broad coalition,” Rep. Raymond said.

Stay tuned for more on education issues impacting the Commonwealth on The Bottom Line.

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