Mayor Peduto would Expand Promise

Madison College

We interrupt our regular muckraking to deliver this breaking news:

We have to continue the great work of the Pittsburgh Promise and supplement it with a new program to offer free, universal high-quality early childhood education to every child in Pittsburgh…

I will pull together the stakeholders and the funding to make it happen when I am Mayor. (BP#34)

The Councilman says that “thanks to state leaders” and the “infrastructure” that is available, we can make it happen. If half of the things they say about quality early childhood education are true, this could provide Pittsburgh with several levels of benefit at once. And since it’s early childhood education, nobody would be left out due to enrollment in private or parochial systems.

25 thoughts on “Mayor Peduto would Expand Promise

  1. Anonymous

    Like so many of “Bill Peduto's ideas” I agree… but these are not the issues of city government, nor is the plan to pay for them out of tax dollars. Perhaps someone should look back for a review of the $350M “PNC Grow Up Great” initiative of a few years back. Big time money poured in… have we ever been shown the results? And I have to say also I would love to see some footnotes to the claims made re the Pittsburgh Promise. To the best of my knowledge, there has never been an outside audit of its “success.” Big money, anecdotal results.

  2. Bram Reichbaum

    Anon 3:34 – I'm a little skeptical of the Promise's results too. But we made it, it's popular, it's underway, and maybe this will be the tool to make it meaningfully felt on a broader scale. It is a mayor's job to organize towards a vision that address problems and aspirations a City clamors over. This is certainly among our biggest issue, and the solution makes as much sense as anything I can think of.

  3. BrianTH

    Why is it not a valid City issue? It isn't like some other entity is completely occupying the field, or even stepping onto it at all.

    That said, universal early childhood education is not a cheap proposition–way more than worth the cost, but still requiring a substantial and ongoing source of funding. So right now this sounds more aspirational than an actual plan.

  4. Bram Reichbaum

    BrianTH – Remember when Luke announced the Promise? How long did it take to get the funding in place?

    It may be a future program, but it's still a high-profile declaration that “This is what I intend to do, it's a priority, and how I intend on dedicating a portion of my time.” I was surprised frankly that he's picking up the rhetoric of a “promise” and guaranteeing baldly it will get done. I don't necessarily see why it's impossible, maybe it will be his grand upshot to the parlay with the nonprofit community…

  5. Anonymous

    early childhood education and head start are high falutin' daycare . no notieble gains… babysitting for welfare recipients

  6. Anonymous

    The most surprising discovery of all this research into early childhood education is that it doesn’t seem to do a particularly good job at the basic task of improving the cognitive skills of children. That, after all, was the fundamental point of government-funded preschool. Yet, even though all three programs succeed in increasing IQ scores for participants, most of those improvements fade quickly. Perry’s 4-year-old participants, for example, saw their IQs spike to 95.5 (compared to the control group’s 83.3). By age 8, however, they had fallen to nearly equal to the control group at 88.1.

  7. Bram Reichbaum

    Uh, keep reading?

    Program participants typically:

    * Show significantly higher high-school graduation rates;
    * Spend fewer months in special education;
    * Repeat grades less often;
    * Attend four-year colleges more often;
    * Have higher lifetime earnings;
    * Hold jobs longer; and
    * Maybe most surprising of all, commit fewer crimes.

    Here’s the real kicker: Most of these life achievements have demonstrable economic value, either to the individual or to society. They’re also mutually enhancing. Every extra year of school, for example, can be correlated with additional income, lower levels of incarceration and less dependence on welfare.

    In fact, the famous Heckman Curve, which compares the rate of return of an investment in human capital to the age of the children in whom society invests, offers an appropriate motto for young childhood education advocates: The younger the better.

    Thanks, Anon 8:29.

  8. deegazette

    I think it would be wise to not link any investment and expansion of early childhood education to the Pittsburgh Promise. Call it something else. Promise funding is so dependent on matching funds that it likely will become a crap shoot in the future.

    Early childhood expansion should include a component on growing individual family involvement.

  9. Bram Reichbaum

    DeeGazette – If I am reading the link I posted under the key word “quality” correctly together with what Peduto seems to be getting at with the Keystone STARS program, I think that's baked into it.

  10. Anonymous

    Holy moly, Bill found the secret to the world! OMG, I can't believe I didn't think of that. Put money into early childhood education and everyone will go to college and be a millionaire! Oh wait, we don't like millionaires, or people that move into run down neighborhoods and fix them up, or people that have offices in the “downtown” crowd or….

  11. BrianTH

    At a rough guess, this program would cost something like five times Promise on an annual basis, so I am not sure the funding of Promise is really a useful analogy. Generally, I don't think the logic that because some other worthy program got funded all other worthy programs will also get funded is going to hold up.

    Incidentally, politicians have been known to make aspirational promises that they don't actually deliver on, often because they actually lack the means to deliver. And often all this plays out with very little if any political blowback. Depending on what you are talking about, people seem to understand a lot of that sort of campaign stuff is more an expression of values and worldview than an actual plan of action.

    I'm not saying I know that is all this is, but given the utter lack of practical details in the linked materials, for now I am not going to get my hopes up.

  12. Anonymous

    This discussion caused me to take a look at Bill's 100 ideas. Is this his platform? If it is, there is no way we can pay for all of this stuff even if the foundations pony up. I'm still with him but I would like to see a real plan with priorities not this random smattering of “ideas.” Also, a lot of these ideas are already planned or underway.

  13. Anonymous

    Same could be said of Wagner, only instead of too many specifics he has none. This sounds like a priority. And there's a defined goal to which we can hold him accountable.

  14. Anonymous

    The Pittsburgh Public schools already have day care. PreK 3-4 years olds. An aide said its all about babysitting. You have to take a class to be permitted to change diapers. 3-4 year olds still in diapers. cradle to grave!

  15. Bram Reichbaum

    Anon 10:54 – First of all, what's wrong with babysitting?? An extremely valuable resource to working families of all shapes and sizes (particularly Size One) with very young children. Secondly, you must be willfully ignoring the distinction present in “quality”, or higher-accredited, ECE programs, provided in the links or at your disposal.

  16. flybylight

    To Anon 10:54A, both my sons went to a daycare/preschool at which I witnessed two-year-olds listening intently in a class about Thanksgiving, raising their hands when the teacher asked questions about the pictures on the walls, and standing and answering the questions.

    What my sons learned during the day, during those years, combined with the family togetherness of the evenings, was far more of a head-start into life than I could have provided alone.

    And it was far more than just babysitting. They acquired a love of learning, a socialization, understanding of others, and a discipline in their lives, in addition to the organized knowledge that got filed in their brains.

    Our teacher was excellent at her work. That's what we want for the next generation, and if we can make that happen it will be one more seed planted for the growth of the City.

  17. Anonymous

    Anon 9:43 Explain why gov't is so keen to support what we call “economic development” yet ought NOT assist in the development of children and families who in turn provide Pgh with economic firepower.

    Top down < Bottom up.

  18. Anonymous

    Frustrated Taxpayer: Check out the Allegheny Institute's comments and idea, (Jan. 2010). Wouldn't it make more sense to give each parent in the city $10,000 to send their children to the school of their choice? We need to stop subsidizing inferior schools/teachers with our hard -earned money! Let the best schools win!


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