Letters to the Editor

Pre-K adds value to K-12 investments

Kendra Yamamoto is right (“Time is now for preschool for all,” March 22): We pay a price today and tomorrow for low pre-K participation figures.

In 2013, Washington state taxpayers paid $11 million for about 2,000 students to repeat kindergarten. Meanwhile, an unprepared workforce negatively impacts employers, public and private, by costing our nation $3.7 billion annually in remedial education services and lost wages.

Moreover, 14 percent of Washingtonians aged 16-24 are neither in school nor employed. Additionally, 69 percent of today’s young adults in Washington are not eligible to serve in the military. Nearly one-quarter of ineligible applicants are unqualified because they have not graduated from high school or cannot pass the military’s basic education exam.

As our legislators continue to negotiate solutions to the K-12 funding issue, we urge them to remember the proven success of the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), our state’s pre-K program for low-income students.

ECEAP students experience significant educational gains and are better prepared for kindergarten. During 2015-2016, the number of ECEAP students scoring at or above age level in early literacy and math rose by 88 percent and 310 percent, respectively.

Yet, in Thurston County, just 40 percent of eligible youngsters have access to high-quality pre-K, and only 36 percent of low-income students arrive to school prepared for kindergarten.

We must do better.

ECEAP helps prepare our children for success in school so they have many options in life, including serving their country in uniform if that is what they wish.