Polls Show Support for Early Education. Will Voters Agree Nov. 4?

3 years ago

On November 4, voters in many states will decide on ballot measures for early childhood education, and recent polls report that most Americans support making preschool more accessible for all. The surveys show that voters in North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Colorado and Georgia view early learning as a priority at both the state and national level.



Image Credit: First Five Years

Five different polls were conducted in five very different states. A bipartisan team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research for the First Five Years Fund polled 500 registered voters each in North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Colorado. The Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students used their own bipartisan research team to conduct a similar poll of Georgia voters.

I interviewed Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, to ask her to explain more about what this means:

GHL: Why were these states of North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Colorado and Georgia chosen to be the focus of these polls?

KP: These five states are politically important in the midterms and will be so for years to come. They are states that are very politically distinct. For the past two years in a row, national polling has confirmed that increasing state and national investments in early childhood education is a top priority for voters across the political spectrum. We wanted to see if that support is apparent in swing states. These new polls reveal strong support for early childhood in these states.



Image Credit: First Five Years

GHL: What are the national trends involving early childhood education? Your results state that 75% of Americans want Congress to invest in early childhood education. What legislation or interest is there in implementing changes at the federal level? Or is this something we should expect more at the state level?

KP: Good question. First, it’s clear that early childhood education is important to voters and state leaders in red and blue states alike. Voters truly understand that investment in high-quality early childhood education is one of the most effective strategies for improving education, health and economic outcomes. It’s also clear that voters care a great deal about access to quality, not just access—and they want to see those investments now, not years down the line.

That’s why it’s no surprise that there’s a legislative shift happening at both the state and national levels. States are taking action to expand and improve early childhood programs, but they can't do it alone. Communities need federal support to serve the growing number of families and children in need. An announcement will also be made before the end of the year of the states that will be awarded Preschool Development Grants. This will be a game changer for local programs. Thirty-five states – red and blue alike – applied for a share of $250 million in funding to develop or expand state preschool programs.

We believe that increased state demand and more federal grants will spur demand for greater federal investments to help states provides greater access to quality early childhood programs from birth to five. States cannot do the job alone.

GHL: As people head to the polls on November 4, what should they be looking for if they are interested in supporting early childhood education? Are there any ballot initiatives? How can voters tell how candidates stand on this?

KP: Yes, ballot initiatives have cropped up across the country like Propositions 1A and 1B in Seattle (the city-supported pre-K expansion plan (1B) versus a union-supported child care quality initiative (1A)). Denver has a ballot initiative to re-authorize tax on the very successful Denver Preschool Program that enrolls 70 percent of city 4-year-olds, while voters throughout Hawaii will weigh in on a constitutional amendment allowing public funds to support private early childhood education programs, which would be an important step toward getting the state publicly funded pre-K. Just to name a few.

Early childhood education is also a hot campaign issue for candidates in both parties this year; the issue is driving gubernatorial races in states like Texas, Michigan, Arkansas and Massachusetts and high-profile congressional races like New York’s 11th district. A number of state senators from both parties in Iowa who are running for re-election also came together on a bill to expand the state’s voluntary preschool program during the last legislative session, including Democrats in districts 5 and 27 and a Republican in district 7.



Image Credit: First Five Years

KP: This momentum, combined with Congress’ likely efforts to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) next month, a law that has not been reauthorized since 1996, is a marked sign of increased and growing bipartisan public support for investments in early childhood education. Congress had also agreed to fund the Preschool Development Grants program through a bipartisan spending bill that will allow $250 million for states to develop or expand high-quality preschool programs for low- and moderate-income families. Again, 35 states from red and blue states alike have applied for this funding.

Voters believe it is more important to invest in education than to hold the line on spending or reduce tax burdens—and policymakers are listening.

Check BlogHer on Tuesday, November 4, for more information about races that we're watching and analysis as the results come in.

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.

This is an article written by a member of the SheKnows Community. The SheKnows editorial team has not edited, vetted or endorsed the content of this post. Want to join our amazing community and share your own story? Sign up here.
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