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IMG_7847, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from pcutler’s photostream

April 18, 2013, Pittsburgh, PA – By all accounts, expanding access to early childhood education is among the wisest investment that can be made in efforts to strengthen Pittsburgh’s economy. Mayoral candidate Bill Peduto is committed to doing just that.

According to the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the United States Chamber of Commerce, for every dollar spent in early childhood, savings range form $2.50 to as much as $17 over time.

During a press conference today held at Downtown’s Small World Early Learning Center, Peduto said, “We know that children who receive high-quality early education are set on a path to happier, healthier, and more productive lives. If we want kids to be Promise-ready, we have to start them now.”

As a Pittsburgh City Councilman, Peduto has advocated for the expansion of the Pittsburgh Promise, which offers college scholarships to city high school graduates.

The setting for today’s announcement was Small World II Early Learning and Development Center on Penn Avenue in Downtown. Small World is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and boasts a four-star rating, the highest available, by the state’s Keystone Stars initiative, which provides quality programs through standards and targeted supports.

At the beginning of the 2011-12 school year, approximately one in three preschoolers in Keystone STAR 3 and 4 center and group child care programs showed age-appropriate skills. By the end of the school year, more than two in three preschoolers showed age-appropriate language, math and social skills after attending Keystone STARS 3 and 4 programs in 2011-12.

“The people here at Small World get it and are doing a fine job getting children Promise-ready by age five. But there are more than 10,000 children in Pittsburgh between the ages of one and five, yet less than half of them are receiving early childhood education,” Peduto said. “Of that half, even fewer are being educated in high-quality programs.”

Early educational interventions make a difference because children who are not proficient in reading by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than children who read at or above grade level – and 13 times more likely, if they live in poverty.

“Universally available prekindergarten is the right thing to do because it raises the quality of living for all of us,” Peduto said. “It raises a person’s earning potential, which translates into increased tax revenues, and reduces the likelihood that children will drop out of school and get involved in crime.”

Having been endorsed by the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers for his long-time involvement in supporting quality education, Peduto said he is proud to be part of a coalition of organizations that is committed to expanding access to early childhood education in Pittsburgh.

Peduto is winding down his campaign’s “Education Week” focus, in which his policies concerning public education have been announced as part of his larger 100 Days/100 Policies to Change Pittsburgh effort. For more information, visit www.billpeduto.com.