Finding solutions to the issue of K-12 funding is a key legislative challenge. As negotiations continue, policymakers should support proven solution — like high-quality pre-K. Our state’s pre-K program, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), has shown to increase kindergarten readiness among our most vulnerable youngsters.
The investments we make in ECEAP are also investments in K-12. When kids arrive kindergarten-ready, they are far less likely to repeat kindergarten, more likely to read at grade level by third grade and stay on track to graduate.
Yet, not enough children can take advantage of ECEAP. In Benton and Franklin counties only 32 percent and 37 percent of eligible children participate in high-quality pre-K. In our area only 24 percent to 27 percent of all low-income kids are prepared for kindergarten. These preK access and kindergarten readiness rates are among the lowest in the state.
We urge state policymakers to expand access to ECEAP for eligible children and to improve quality by increasing the per-child reimbursement and create more learning spaces. These common-sense investments will improve K-12 outcomes, strengthen our future economic prosperity and reduce crime down the road.
Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg, Kennewick,
and Craig Eerkes, President/CEO of Sun Pacific Energy, Kennewick