(Host) Democratic gubernatorial candidate Scudder Parker says he supports an expansion of early education programs throughout the state.
Parker says money allocated for this program is one of the best investments the state can make.
Republican governor Jim Douglas opposes Parker’s plan because Douglas says it will put further pressure on local property taxes.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) The funding of early education programs generated a lot of heated debate at the Statehouse this year.
For nearly 20 years, local schools have been allowed to form partnerships with community child care centers to have the centers provide up to 10 hours of educational services a week.
Money from the state’s Education Fund is used to reimburse the child care centers for these services.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Scudder Parker thinks more towns should be encouraged to develop these kinds of programs so that all students are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten.
(Parker) “Various studies have said the return on investment here is something like 7-1 in terms of students who succeed at a higher level, who get higher paying jobs, avoided time in the corrections system, avoided time in special education costs and repeating grades. All those things cost schools money.”
(Kinzel) At the end of the session, lawmakers created a special committee to study this issue. Republican governor Jim Douglas says he wants to see the results of the study before supporting an expansion of the program.
(Douglas) “I’ve talked with a number of child care providers most of whom are women. They’re concerned about the implication of additional public dollars and what it might mean to their businesses and the care that they’ve been providing for kids in their communities. So I think we have to understand the implications of what might happen if we were to increase a public expenditure.”
(Kinzel) In other campaign news, Douglas says he believes recent scandals involving members of the Republican leadership in the U.S. House have seriously undermined public support in Congress.
(Douglas) “As someone who’s been in the public eye for a long time and public office for many years, it’s very, very disappointing to me to see people breach the public trust.”
(Kinzel) Parker thinks Douglas’s comments are “purely political”.
(Parker) “Seventeen days before the election when he feels the tidal wave of Democratic votes coming, he decides that he’s had a conversion at that the House leadership may need to be changed. And I think it’s an astonishing performance. And it’s purely political.”
(Kinzel) Parker says he’s convinced that Vermont voters want change not only at the federal level but at the state level as well.
For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.