By Len Lazarick
The Kirwan education commission Thursday morning is set to take up the final detailed recommendations for much more pre-kindergarten in Maryland and higher salaries and a new career ladder for teachers — both programs with “significant fiscal impact.”
Two new polls out this week seek to bolster the argument that spending more money on these recommendations has broad support and is needed.
A Gonzales Research poll for the Maryland Family Network found 75% of Marylanders favor “expanding access to public pre-kindergarten to all 4-year-old kids in Maryland whose families choose to enroll them.” There was majority support across all parties, genders, races and regions, with strongest support from Democrats, African-Americans and the Washington suburbs.
The poll also found strong support for “providing access to public pre-kindergarten to 3- year-old kids from low-income families in Maryland whose families choose to enroll them,” with 70% favoring the idea.
Seven out of 10 likely voters (71%) also favor expanding programs for low-income families with children age 3 and younger, such as school-readiness services, parent education, job skills and child development. All the pre-k programs would be voluntary for those parents who want it. Because public schools lack the staff and facilities to handle larger enrollment for pre-k, current private and religious programs would also be used.
Less support for spending more
There was a little less enthusiastic support for spending more money on pre-kindergarten, with 63% favoring spending two to three times more than the $150 million the state currently does on pre-kindergarten for children of low-income families. Democrats, African-Americans and residents of the D.C. suburbs strongly favored the increased spending. Forty percent of Republicans were against spending more.
There was a heated dispute Monday between Gov. Larry Hogan and his Democratic opponent Ben Jealous over how much expanding pre-k would cost. The Hogan campaign said it might cost $1.2 billion based on an earlier consultant’s report, but Jealous said it might cost $224 million. There was a disagreement over whether the state would pay for all 3- and 4-year-olds — the basis of the governor’s estimate — or just those 4-year-olds who voluntarily enrolled — the basis for the Jealous figure.
The poll was part of a larger Gonzales survey conducted the first week in August and released last week. The questions on pre-kindergarten were commissioned by the Maryland Family Network, an advocacy group for early childhood education whose executive director, Margaret Williams, serves on the Kirwan commission.
The poll surveyed 831 likely voters by cellphone and landline, and has a margin of error of 3.5%.
A survey among 800 members of the Maryland State Education Association, the 74,000-member teachers union, finds that many educators spend their own money on school supplies, work second jobs, and run up personal debt just to make ends meet.
Seventy-one percent of educators agree that inadequate staffing levels make their school days difficult and 69% feel that their school does not have enough funding to help every student be successful. Sixty-two percent agreed that “My salary makes it hard for my family to make ends meet.”
The teachers have been complaining for several years that public schools are underfunded. MSEA has a representative on the Kirwan commission, as does the American Federation of Teachers, which represents teachers in Baltimore City public schools.
The poll by GBA Strategies in Washington has a margin of error of 3.5%. MSEA released only two pages of the poll analysis.
As for pre-K… Whatever happened to the role of parents regarding teaching their children the basics ( colors, shapes, letters, numbers, reading to and with them, etc. ) ?
When I was growing up, my parents did everything that pre-K and Kindergarten did.
And I was ready for first grade when the school year started…
As for teachers getting more pay… Given the product coming from our elementary and high-schools, they are grossly overpaid…
Meanwhile, private and parochial schools turn out a far superior product with teachers who are paid far less…
And they aren’t propagandists…
While I understand the popularity of opening up pre-K to more students, I don’t understand the logic of paying teachers more when, in Montgomery County, our teachers are paid more ($81,791) for 10 months than their counterparts in Fairfax County ($72,734) – and Fairfax produces better educational outcomes. If you include the total cost for a MoCo teacher including all benefits, the cost is $120,757. If we pay teachers more, we can’t afford to hire many more teachers as the unit cost is so high. Do we have a shortage of teachers? Is the attrition rate for teachers very high?.Will higher paid teachers close the achievement gap?
Another BS poll. Maryland does not need more pre-Kindergarten, nor do the communist teachers need any more taxpayer money. If you don’t like the money you make as a teacher, then get another job!