Philadelphia, March 13, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter signed legislation approved unanimously by City Council to place a question on the May 2015 ballot about the creation of an independent Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten. If approved by voters, the Commission will conduct a comprehensive analysis of whether to implement universal pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds in Philadelphia, including evaluating proposals for funding. The ballot question will read:
‘Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for the creation, appointment, powers and duties of an independent Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten which would recommend an implementation and funding plan for achieving universal high quality pre-kindergarten for three- and four-year-olds in Philadelphia without taking away funds used for existing education?’
“In Philadelphia, two out of every three low-income 3- and 4-year-olds lack access to high-quality pre-Kindergarten. Yet research shows that investing in our youngest residents is the most effective way to ensure the next generation of Philadelphians is prepared to reach their full potential and succeed in school, the workplace and beyond. Our Administration through the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) has been working on promoting and expanding early childhood education options for more than a year. It’s now time for the citizens to have a voice and express their support for educating our youngest students,” said Mayor Nutter. “I want to encourage Philadelphians to approve this ballot question, which will allow the Commission to propose how best to implement and fund high-quality early childhood learning in Philadelphia.”
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Chair of City Council’s Education Committee and sponsor of this legislation, added, “We are proud of the collaboration to make Pre-K a part of the Mayor and Council’s agenda. We’re particularly proud to introduce legislation to create a ballot question to call on inclusion in our Charter. Only good can come for our youth!”
If approved by voters, the Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten will be made up of 17 members, including five Mayoral appointees and five City Council appointees. These 10 members will be childcare providers, representatives from the business community, educators, education advocates, regional or national pre-kindergarten experts and parents. The remaining seven Commission members will include two City Council members, the Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, the City’s Director of Finance, Director of Commerce, Commissioner for the Department of Human Services and the Deputy Secretary for the Office of Child Development and Early Learning at the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
“Shared Prosperity Philadelphia was launched almost two years ago with a goal for the City’s youngest residents: ensure children enter school prepared to learn,” said Eva Gladstein, Executive Director of CEO. “We’re committed to expanding access to Pre-K so that any child whose parents want them to attend will have this opportunity, because we understand that Pre-K is one of the ladders of opportunity – it helps children succeed in school and later in life; it helps parents enter and stay in the workforce; and it helps businesses by building the skills employees need to compete in the 21st century.”