8 Questions for the Mayor on Pre-K | Philadelphia Republican City Committee
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8 Questions for the Mayor on Pre-K


8 Questions for Mayor Kenney on Pre-K

Educate Us


            The Mayor’s “universal pre-K” program is being debated in Council, but many of the details remain opaque – including whether or not it will actually be universal. Your City GOP has eight questions for the Mayor that Philadelphians deserve to hear addressed.


1.  Is it really universal?

Multiple members of Council – including Council President Darrell Clarke – have said they’ll only vote for the program if it excludes middle and upper class Philadelphians.  But the Mayor’s director of pre-K, Anne Gemmell, has admitted that this exclusion “wouldn’t be moving the city toward universal pre-K.”

The Mayor needs to decide and be honest about his program. Philly is already among the most over-taxed cities in the nation – will our struggling middle class be allowed to participate?

2.  Is it a vouchers system?

Will the city be expanding existing public school facilities, building or renting their own facilities to house this program or will they be issuing vouchers to existing prekindergartens and daycares that house pre-K? If vouchers, that seems like a move towards school choice and letting parents choose the provider most capable of caring for their children. If school choice is best for parents, why should this end at pre-K?

3.  Are religious organizations excluded from a voucher program?

Many parents in Philadelphia want to send their kids to religious schools, either for quality of education or for morals. Will parents in the city be allowed to make their own choices about where to send their children, or will Christian, Jewish, and Muslim pre-Ks be barred from entry to the Mayor’s program?

4.  What are we paying these workers? (Living wage vs. minimum wage, unionized?)

Contracts awarded by the city to contractors are subject to living wage rules. Is the Mayor planning to exempt participating pre-K programs (many of whom pay their workers below this number) or will they have to raise the cost of their employees? Has the Mayor factored this into his budget?  Will the PFT unionize thee employees?  After all they are teachers in the City of Philadelphia whose schools are receiving City dollars.  If not, why not?

5.  Who is assigning these contracts?

Decades of one party politics has kept a cartel of well-connected politicians pulling the levers and left our city in a financial mess – both impoverished and overtaxed. If we’re signing onto pre-K, the method of vetting and approving providers should be transparent to the people of Philadelphia, and not another opportunity to dole out jobs and money from City Hall.

6.  What sort of oversight for providers?

If pre-K determines outcomes, what sort of data does the Mayor plan to make available on its providers? Will under-performing programs be shut down? If we’re sending our youngest and most vulnerable into pre-K, we need to ensure safety and reputability in the vetting process. Parents deserve to know this information before we sign onto a new entitlement program, not after.

7.  What are we going to do about our public schools?

The Mayor and his allies can talk all they want about outcomes, but as long as parents over pre-K age have the choice of enrolling their kids into our third-world public schooling system or moving to the suburbs, we won’t be improving outcomes for Philadelphia’s children.

The Mayor has no constructive plan to turn around our flailing schools. Donors and union allies have gotten in the way of parent choice at every turn. Merit pay for our best-performing teachers – and dismissal of those that show up just for the paycheck – is a common-sense measure to improve quality of education. If the Mayor really wants to help kids in the city, he should take seriously the school system they’ll be entering after they leave pre-K.

8.  How are we going to pay for this?

The Mayor claims the program will be funded by his grocery tax on sugary beverages, but that tax would shrink every year as people consume less because of health reasons or the higher cost. As the revenue numbers decrease, who is left footing the bill for the Mayor’s new entitlement?

Philadelphia Republican City Committee – 215-561-0650 – 3525 Cottman Ave. Phila., PA 19149 www.phillygop.com

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