The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 today to support a federal plan to invest $75 billion in early childhood education.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who urged his colleagues to send a letter to President Barack Obama and congressional leaders in support of the plan, called universal preschool and early learning programs a priority.
“It is a strategic investment in our future,” he said.
California could receive up to $335 million in preschool funding during the plan’s first year, according to Ridley-Thomas. State matching funds are required under the plan.
Supervisors Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich cast the dissenting votes.
Knabe said he was concerned about where the money for such programs would come from. He cited Los Angeles Universal Preschool, a nonprofit which funds preschool for about 11,000 children using tobacco tax revenues from First 5 LA, as an example of a program dependent on a declining revenue base.
“I just think it’s unsustainable,” Knabe said.
Ridley-Thomas pointed to studies showing the importance of early education to lifetime success and noted that the United States ranks 25th in public spending for early learning among developed countries.
“Investing in early learning during the first five years of a child’s life is critical, with significant consequences for a child’s long-term health and emotional well-being if they are not enrolled in preschool or early education programs,” Ridley-Thomas said.