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Peskin gets behind Preschool-For-All proposition

Supervsor Peskin is joined by Supervisors Ammiano, Ma, Mirkarimi and Labor Council Director, Tim Paulson, on the steps of City Hall yesterday in support of Proposition 82.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Aldrich M. Tan

May 10, 2006

Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced legislation in support of Prop 82, the Preschool-for All-Initiative, at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

The proposition would develop a free, high-quality preschool education program for every four-year-old in California, Peskin said.

"Prop 82 is a historic opportunity to make sure all children receive a quality preschool education so that they can enter school prepared and ready to learn," Peskin said.

Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi, Fiona Ma, and Tom Ammiano joined Peskin in support of the legislation at a press conference on Tuesday outside City Hall.

"Preschool gives students a leg up in life," said Ammiano, a former preschool teacher.

Ma agreed with Ammiano.

"Every child should have a fighting opportunity to succeed in this country," Ma said.

Mirkarimi said he represents a district that continues to struggle to provide community needs.

"If this city is serious in protecting families of all different classes and races, it will support this legislation," Mirkarimi said.

Lee Blitch, former president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said the key to having a great city is to have an educated workforce.

"The sooner that we educate children, the less money we will spend later to play catch-up with their education," Blitch said.

Tim Paulson, Executive Director of the San Francisco Labor Council, said a good education system is critical to the city's quality of life.

"Prop 82 gives working families a break and puts kids on the right track in school," Paulson said.

Scott Moore, co-owner of Little Elephant Montessori School in Oakland, said preschool can be very costly. Moore, whose program has 28 children from Oakland, said his school charges over $1,000 per month for full-day program and $825 for a part-day program.

Moore said he is pushing for the legislation for his son Duncan, 16 months old, can someday avoid becoming one of the 50 percent of fourth graders who cannot pass the basic reading test, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education.

"Children like my son would be able to go a high quality preschool some day," Moore said.

Not every state official is in support of the initiative, which will be part of the June primary election ballot.

"With all the real and pressing problems facing this state, the last thing we need to do is raise taxes by $2.4 billion to create a new government run bureaucracy to replace our current system of preschools," said Allan Zaremberg, President of the California Chamber of Commerce.

Larry McCarthy, president of the California Taxpayers' Association said the legislation will get only four percent more of state children into preschool.

"Rather than focus resources on the state's most pressing needs or helping parents of low-income families who need the most help sending their kids to preschool, this flawed measure creates a subsidy for rich and middle-income families that already send their kids to preschool," McCarthy said.

Natanya Moore, Duncan's mother and a preschool teacher herself, said Prop 82 instead provides equal opportunities for children from rich, middle and low-income families.

"It is important to have children of diverse socioeconomic background participating in the same education program," Moore said. "Such programs will promote greater community and global awareness for these children."

According to the proposition itself, Proposition 82 will develop a $2.4 billion state-run voluntary preschool education program for all four-year-old children beginning in 2010 through a 1.7 percent tax increase on individual incomes above $400,0000 annually and $800,000 for couples.




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