Students, Teachers & Parents Fight Proposed Preschool Cuts
Posted on 5.22.09
By Tom Brockman
Published: May 20, 2009
COLUMBUS, Ohio—Dozens of students, teachers and parents asked lawmakers to restore funding to early childhood education programs Wednesday.
The Ohio House has approved some $244 million in such cuts in the 2010-11 budget.
Some say these cuts will put thousands of children at risk.
Five-year-old Malachi Fulcher is in his second year at Columbus Montessori Education Center.
He wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for funding from the state’s Early Learning Initiative program, also known as E.L.I.
“This gives him an opportunity to really get a good foundation for later learning in a public elementary school,” says Venessa DeCree, Malachi’s teacher.
Twenty-nine other students at Columbus Montessori and more than 12,000 in Ohio take advantage of educational services offered by E.L.I.
But now, the program that supporters say has done so much for these children is at risk itself.
In the 2010-11 budget, the House has approved $244 million in cuts to programs such as E.L.I. and public preschool.
According to the statewide coalition group Groundwork some 130,000 children would be affected and it would eliminate around 4,000 slots for eligible children in E.L.I.
Columbus Montessori Executive Director Ann Timm says these cuts will put more children at risk for not developing essential skills, such as speech and problem-solving, before they enter kindergarten.
“This is where we need to spend money, at the beginning when students are just entering into school,” Timm says.
That’s the message they tried to convey to lawmakers Wednesday when they visited the Ohio Senate Finance Committee Hearing at the Ohio Statehouse to ask them to restore funding.
However, State Senator John Carey, who chairs the finance committee, says money to increase that funding doesn’t exist.
Meanwhile, these teachers and parents hope they find it.
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