On March 5, Utah lawmakers struck down SB71, Sen. Aaron Osmond's early-education bill to invest in preschool programs to help close the achievement gap for at-risk students.
United Way of Salt Lake has been dedicated to this project, and we are truly disheartened by the outcome. We thank Osmond for his commitment and passion and his colleagues who voted for the bill.
Thousands of Utah families send their children to preschools; thousands more want to enroll their kids in a high-quality program. Unfortunately, many of these families cannot afford this service, yet they also cannot afford to stay home.
Even if there is a caretaker at home, the data clearly show that at-risk children have been exposed to a third of the language as their middle- and high-income peers. Twenty-five percent are more likely to drop out of school; 50 percent are more likely to be placed in special education; 60 percent are more likely to be arrested for a violent crime; and 70 percent are more likely to never attend college.
We pledge to continue developing data-driven legislation, and invite the public to support high-quality early education.
Deborah Bayle President, United Way of Salt Lake
Salt Lake City