A legislative meeting room was packed to the brim with television and print reporters and proponents of a bill that would authorize a pre-school pilot in Idaho.
The legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Hy Kloc (D-Boise) and Rep. Doug Hancey (R-Rexburg), would provide for a public-private partnership to establish up to five preschool programs across the state. The objective of this three-year pilot program is to gather data about the value of pre-school preparedness for continuing education.
Among the many individuals and organizations that were on hand to support the effort were IEA President Penni Cyr, Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, United Way of Treasure Valley CEO Nora Carpenter, Treasure Valley YMCA CEO Jim Everett, Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer, and Idaho Voices for Children Executive Director LeAnn Simmons.
“This is about the future of this state,” said Representative Kloc. “We can invest in our children or we can sit on our hands and hope things work out to our advantage.”
Sheriff Raney shared research that says there are 20% fewer felonies in areas where good fundamental pre-school programs exist. In Idaho that could mean a savings of $20-$30 million/annually that could be used for pre-school education, reducing the need for prisons.
“Children who participate in high quality preschool programs have better language, math, and social skills than their peers who do not participate,” noted Oppenheimer.