What Montana needs is education for our youngest citizens and Montana Governor Steve Bullock is doing that.
Today he proposed $37 million to be spent over two years so that 4-year-olds can half a half-day of kindergarten, not even a full-day, just a few hours each day.
Already 42 states do this and the reasons are simple:
- It gives kids a leg-up when they get to real school;
- It gives parents more free time to work or just rest;
- It creates stable and long-term jobs for our economy;
- Overburdened daycare workers can catch a break;
- Kids learn, and maybe get something to eat.
This is just such a super idea that I can’t tell you how happy I am and how much I hope Republicans will support getting this into the base budget so Montana can join the 21st-century.
I’ve written about the problems daycare teachers in Montana face, and I know this early childhood education program has been on Steve Bullock’s radar for a long time.
It’s good that he’s getting it through, getting it in the proposed budget that legislators will see in November, and getting the word out to Montanans.
This is common-sense politics that should be supported across the aisle, and I expect it will be. The National Education Association reported that those getting early childhood education earn, on average, $2,000 a month more over the course of their careers.
Now, according to the 2010 Census, Montana has just 6% of the population under the age of 5 years old. If we go by the population estimate for 2013 of 1,015,165 for Montana’s population, you get 60,910 kids under the age of 5.
Add in an extra $2,000 for each of them a month in earnings and it turns into an extra $121.8 million a month that’s produced for our economy when they enter the workforce.
So not passing this would actually be hurting our economy long-term, not to mention those extra costs that having a less-educated society brings.
I hope the 2015 Montana Legislature realizes this and passes this budget proposal.