Why Philly is struggling to offer more kids pre-K

Listen
 (<a href=Photo via ShutterStock) " title="ssnurseryschoolx1200" width="640" height="360"/>

(Photo via ShutterStock)

It’s a proven good investment, but Philadelphia is struggling to expand pre-kindergarten classrooms to meet demand.

City Chief Education Officer Lori Shorr says with the current financial problems in the school district, her staff is doing its best to provide a pre-kindergarten education for all who want it. Shorr says studies show it is cost effective in the long-run.

“Every dollar spent on pre-K returns up to $17 in later savings and benefits,” Shorr said. “Pennsylvania school districts investing in pre-K could gain back as much as 78 percent of the pre-K investments in other education savings.”

Drexel University professor and early childhood education expert Dominic Gullo says children achieve better the sooner they begin schooling.

“[They] are less likely to need special education services or remedial work, are less likely to drop out of school, experience higher levels of school attainment. [They] experience improved nutrition and health, are less likely to experience child abuse and neglect and are less likely to become teenage parents.”

A spokesperson for the school district of Philadelphia says a lack of funding keeps it from providing pre-K for those who want it. The district is seeking to add 250 more spots next year.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.