LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A pre-k education for every three and four-year-old in Kentucky is what Representative Josie Raymond is pushing for. She plans to file an expanded bill in the 2020 session.
On August 10, a rally brought families and other politicians to a Louisville park to highlight why they feel pre-k education is needed. Rep. Raymond was joined by Congressman John Yarmuth, Attorney General Andy Beshear, House Leaders Rocky Adkins and Joni Jenkins, JCPS board members and other supporters of the bill.
Rep. Raymond says it's crucial for kids to start their first day of kindergarten ready and prepared, while parents are excited for their kiddos, not stressed about the financial burden. As a mother herself, she says she has seen the results of successful pre-k first hand, but she has also felt the difficulties of having to pay for it. She says last year alone she paid $22,000.
In her first session last year, she introduced a bill that would offer pre-k to every four-year-old in Kentucky overnight, but that failed.
"A lot has changed since then. We've seen the Republican woman of the House Education Committee come out publicly and say she's for universal pre-k. I've recruited a Republican co-sponsor for next year, it's Representative Steve Sheldon out of Bowling Green, and we know in this climate how important that bipartisanship is, and we've just seen polling come out from the Pritcher Committee organization that says eighty something percent of Kentuckians are for this,” Rep. Raymond said.
To get the word out, Raymond explained she didn't just want to send out the information. She asked herself how to get the community involved. Inviting families, offering face painting, entertainment and ice cream got added to the equation.
"Pre k is not babysitting it's not kids chained to desks, prek is learning through play and moms like me knot he value of it," Raymond said
But that wasn't without the help of parents in Louisville who know the affects of early childhood education all to well.
"When you walk into a scenario that you are immediately at a disadvantage you give up trying," said Kennisha Fischer, a Louisville mother.
"And when kids start kindergarten behind it can take years to catch up, or it may never catch up," Raymond explains.
But for Kennisha Fischer, a Louisville mother of five, pre-k was the reason her son's ADHD diagnosis was acknowledged early on.
"To have these answers given at such an early age for him, allowed me to then start to take advantage of some of the other things that JCPS offers," Fischer says. But other's haven't been as lucky. "I've seen so many frustrated parents who are on the cusp of being able to qualify for pre school, making 28 dollars too much, just enough to make them feel like it's one more thing they can't provide for their child."