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Noah Goliday in his pre-K class in Washington, D.C. Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Image

Communities are starting to prioritize pre-kindergarten programs to boost children's school performance — as well as to provide quality childcare for parents who need to work.

Why it matters: "This is more than just an educational issue. It's a public health issue, an economic and workforce development issue, and a child poverty issue," said Olivia Allen, project manager at the Children's Funding Project.

  • Research has shown children who aren't prepared for kindergarten often fall behind by the time they reach third and fourth grades, which is when states start accountability testing.
  • But the average pre-school tuition for two children costs $20,000 per year — about a quarter of the median family income.

By the numbers: Enrollment in state-funded pre-school programs has slowly increased over the last 15 years.

In Texas, half-day pre-K programs were available for households with incomes below 185% of the poverty threshold. But it wasn't workable for families that needed full-time care.

  • In 2011, San Antonio voters approved to raise the local sales tax by one-eighth of a percent to expand full-day Pre-K for 4-year-olds across the city. The money went to opening four early education centers — one in each quadrant of the city — serving a total of 2,000 kids per year.
  • Sarah Baray, CEO Of Pre-K4SA, said their research found "children had better reading and math scores, significantly better attendance, and were far less likely to need special education services."
  • The program's success spurred the state to boost funding to increase the number of students beyond those that meet income eligibility requirements.

Pre-K programs have also been shown to help mothers re-enter the work force.

  • In 2009, the District of Columbia began offering two years of universal, full-day preschool to 3- and 4-year olds.
  • The Center for American Progress attributed a 10 percentage-point rise in maternal labor force participation to the preschool expansion.

In New York's Onondaga County, which includes Syracuse, County Executive J. Ryan McMahon sees government-funded pre-K as a way to break the cycle of multigenerational poverty.

  • "We're investing in our young people now so we can make good decisions later — or we'll spend a lot more later when they make poor decisions," McMahon said.

Reality check: States and cities shouldn't prioritize quantity over quality, said Shelley Hearne, president of CityHealth. "There's pressure on everyone to provide more seats, but if those seats are in low-quality environments, we won't see the long-term benefits."

The big question for most cities is how to pay for preschool programs.

  • Philadelphia passed a soda tax to fund early education. Denver dedicated a 0.15% sales tax that has been extended to 2026.
  • Cobbling together enough money to pay teachers a living wage continues to be a challenge.

The good news: "Once it's there, it's not an area where either political party looks to cut," McMahon said. "If you can prove metrics, you can have good results."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

12 mins ago - Technology

Google says goodbye to individual user tracking

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Google made clear Wednesday that after it finished phasing out third-party cookies over the next year or so, it won't introduce other forms of identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web.

Why it matters: The move comes amid increased scrutiny over the way tech giants use consumer data to reinforce their dominance, particularly around personalized advertising.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The Fed could be firing up economic stimulus in disguise

Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard at a "Fed Listens" event. Photo: Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images.

Even as global growth expectations increase and governments pile on fiscal spending measures central bankers are quietly restarting recession-era bond-buying programs.

Driving the news: Comments Tuesday from Fed governor Lael Brainard suggest the Fed may be jumping onboard the global monetary policy rethink and restarting a program used following the 2008 global financial crisis.

Democrats' hypocrisy moment

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be facing explicit calls to resign from President Biden on down, if you apply the standard that Democrats set for similar allegations against Republicans. And it's not a close call.

Why it matters: The #MeToo moment saw men in power run out of town for exploiting young women. Democrats led the charge. So the silence of so many of them seems more strange — and unacceptable by their own standards — by the hour.