NEWS: Rep. Kawasaki and Rep. Fansler Seek to Establish Universal Pre-K in Alaska
Early Education is an Investment in the Future of Alaska’s Children and Families
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2017
Juneau – Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and Representative Zach Fansler (D-Bethel) plan to introduce legislation to create a statewide, voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program to prepare Alaska’s children for educational success.
“Alaska has a responsibility to provide the best education possible for our children and that includes giving them the tools to start their academic careers early,” said Rep. Kawasaki. “Every day it seems there is another study documenting the benefits of early education opportunities. I think it’s time for Alaska to start thinking about the long-term success that can be had by such a modest investment.”
Alaska is one of just a few states that does not provide Pre-Kindergarten programs on a statewide basis, despite mounting research that shows a link between early education opportunities and later academic success. A 2007 Harvard study showed children who participate in early learning programs have higher academic proficiency scores throughout their primary and secondary education.
“Pre-Kindergarten programs are a win-win solution for Alaska,” said Rep. Fansler. “They increase student performance while also saving the state money in the long-term by producing self-reliant, successful adults.”
Approximately 85 percent of a child’s core brain development occurs before age four, which makes quality Pre-K programs vital to academic performance. Children that are able to take advantage of early education opportunities are shown to be more likely to remain off public assistance, obtain a college education, earn more money as adults, enter the job market in larger numbers, and stay out of prison.
“For every dollar invested in Pre-Kindergarten programs, states save on average $16.14 in the long-term,” said Rep. Kawasaki. “In times of fiscal uncertainty, it is more important than ever to properly invest in our state’s future and prepare our children to tackle critical issues moving forward.”
The Pre-K legislation sponsored by Rep. Kawasaki and Rep. Fansler will be formally introduced and receive committee assignments on Wednesday.
For additional information, contact Olivia Garrett in Rep. Kawasaki’s office at (907) 465-3466.