Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rob McCord stopped by a Philadelphia nursery school on Wednesday to stress Pennsylvania’s need for more early childhood education funding.
Before reading to students inside Children’s Village Early Learning Center, McCord said more money for public pre-K and full-day kindergarten programs means healthier, better-adjusted kids who are more likely to graduate from high school.
“Talk about a return on your investment,” McCord said during a morning discussion organized by Pre-K for PA, a nonpartisan advocacy organization.
McCord added that pre-K programs can be critical when it comes to identifying and tackling learning disabilities, something he struggled with early in life.
“It wasn’t until they kind of diagnosed the dyslexia and gave me learning strategies that I could become comfortable in school again,” he said. “Now, when I face a discomfort with learning, I say, ‘Oh I can overcome this. I have that confidence.'”
It’s a skill he said is key when it comes to the work world.
Fewer than 20 percent of all 3- and 4-year-olds in Pennsylvania have access to publicly-funded pre-K programs.
If elected, McCord wants to add $220 million to the state’s early childhood education budget during his first year in office, nearly tripling current state spending.
The funding boost would come courtesy of a 10 percent severance tax on companies drilling for natural gas in the state.
McCord is one of four Democrats hoping to go up against Gov. Tom Corbett during a general election where funding for education promises to be a key issue. Conservative Bob Guzzardi is challenging Corbett in the Republican primary.