Toledo mayoral candidate Wade Kapszukiewicz stumped for votes Tuesday by touting his goal to guarantee access to prekindergarten education for all Toledo children.
“Expanding access to all 3- and 4-year-olds in Toledo should be our goal,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said during a morning news conference across the street from Mom’s House, which helps low-income, single moms graduate from high school, technical school, and college and also has a day care program.
“No child should be denied the many proven sustainable benefits of an early education because they cannot afford it,” he said. “Children who attend preschool are less-likely to need other advanced special education programs, they are less-likely to repeat a grade, they are less-likely to drop out of high school, and they are less-likely to become incarcerated as adults.”
Mr. Kapszukiewicz acknowledged the idea is an “aspirational goal” and he does not have a funding source identified to pay the cost that could be $20 million or more annually.
He cited other cites like Dayton, Cincinnati, and Tulsa, Okla., that have found ways to have universal prekindergarten.
“The state of Oklahoma was the leader on this,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. “In 1981, they mandated by law universal pre-K. They started with 7,000 students [and] today they have 40,000.”
Mr. Kapszukiewicz, a Democrat, said other cities fund access to pre-kindergarten with taxes but that he would not advocate that in Toledo.
“I will call on our friends in labor, educators at all levels, experts in our hospital system, ministers, neighborhood leaders, pastors, elected officials and the business community to comes together to make this happen for Toledo’s children,” he said.
Sam Melendez, campaign manager for Democratic Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, said the mayor also believes in finding a way to offer universal pre-kindergarten.
“The research is clear and everyone agrees that universal pre-K would be a great idea for all kids,” Mr. Melendez said. “It is something the mayor will work on in her second term. She has had discussions with school leaders and the University of Toledo. It is more complicated than just saying ‘we have to do it.’”
District Councilman Tom Waniewski, a Republican mayoral candidate, could not immediately be reached for comment.