Advocates for a quality pre-kindergarten program say Floridians still aren’t getting their money’s worth. Voters approved a constitutional amendment creating a statewide pre-K program in 2002, but advocates say the resulting program is still woefully under funded.
Supporters hope several thousand children’s drawings will convince lawmakers to invest in the youngsters’ future.
At the Children’s Campaign headquarters, workers are sorting thousands of drawings sent in by four-year-olds from pre-kindergarten programs all over Florida showing what they want to be when they grow up.
Linda Alexionok with the Children’s Campaign says the point to the project is showing what big dreams little kids have. No one drew a picture of a dropout or a prison inmate.
Yet she’s afraid that’s what the future may hold for some of them unless Florida puts more money into the pre-kindergarten program voters demanded four years ago. “What we currently have is not what they asked for and anticipated when they put a constitutional amendment in.”
Lawmakers did add $60 per child to the pre-K budget this year, bringing the total to 2,560. But that’s about $1,000 short of the state’s own recommendation, and it would put Florida at 31st in spending out of the 39 states offering pre-K.
There is so much hope and promise on this table, but here’s a sobering statistic. At the current rate, five out of 10 of these children won’t even graduate high school.
The fact that Florida even offers pre-K does put it ahead of the game. But advocates say lawmakers could, and should, do better.
The Children’s Campaign is collecting the drawings from four-year-olds to present to candidates for state office this November. Advocates are hoping to convince the candidates to make a commitment to additional funding for the state’s pre-K program.
They’ll be releasing the drawings along with survey results at a news conference next week.