Low: Early childhood education an ‘investment’

Brennan Stebbins

Early childhood education is frequently mentioned when a politician is on the campaign trail rallying support for an election bid.

When the election is over, however, talk of early childhood education often goes out the window. Rep. Beth Low (D-Kansas City) wants to change that.

Low has sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 15, which says support for the early childhood programs is an investment in the state’s future.

“Early childhood education is critical for long-term educational success,” Low said. “This resolution is about putting the Legislature on the record of being in support of increasing funding for early childhood education.

“I’m trying to just get everybody to agree publicly that it’s a priority,” she added.

Low works with children’s advocates in the capitol, and said there is a sense in that community that the issues always get lip service from elected officials on the campaign trail, but “the rubber never seems to hit the road in terms of support.”

Text of the resolution states, “early childhood programs have a significant impact on the State’s current and future economy, parent’s ability to work, and the healthy development and school readiness of Missouri’s young children.”

Missouri Southern announced the closure of its early childhood development center on campus, effective at the end of the semester. The news was disappointing for Low.

“Access to high quality child care of any kind is inadequate at this point,” she said. “Access to true childhood education, rather than just a daycare spot where children are basically just protected from physical harm, and their basic needs are met but they’re not enriched at all by the experience. Finding a place that actually provides real early childhood education is even harder and finding them that are affordable and accessible, have space for your child, is the final hurdle. So hearing that another of those facilities has closed is disappointing and I think it’s not the direction that our society needs to be moving in if we’re serious about positive educational outcomes in the long run.”

The resolution is nonbinding and has no actual funding associated with it, but hasn’t been assigned to a committee, despite positive feedback.

“I’ve had nothing but positive feedback but on the other hand it hasn’t gone anywhere,” Low said. “This is the third year I’ve sponsored it.

“It’s been sponsored for several weeks,” she added. “Most bills find a committee rather quickly, and it hasn’t been assigned so that would tell me it doesn’t seem to be a priority in the Speaker’s office.”