Stop Changes in Vermont Pre-K Funding Eligibility

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This petition is to draw your attention to a proposed change to Vermont’s Universal Pre-K funding (Act 166) that should concern parents and early education advocates. The Vermont Agency of Education issued a memo back in September 2017 indicating they intend to pursue legislative changes this session to eliminate preschool funding for otherwise eligible five-year old children. This memo was posted online and circulated to early education providers (though I highly doubt it was seen by many parents impacted by the proposed changes). In addition, apparently this proposed change is being preemptively instituted as an interpretation of statute because when I went to begin enrollment for my preschooler in the 2018/2019 preschool program at his current school I was informed I would not be eligible for Universal Pre-K funding and would have to pay tuition in full (unlike in years past).

Act 166 specifically defines an eligible Prekindergarten child as “a child who, as of the date established by the district of residence for kindergarten eligibility, is three or four years of age or is five years of age but is not yet enrolled in kindergarten." In addition, Vermont law clearly states the compulsory age for beginning formal education as a Kindergarten student is six (6). The proposed change in rules appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to use publicly available funding sources to force families into early enrollment in public Kindergarten programs, at age 5, regardless of a child’s readiness.  Not to mention it sends mixed messages about the importance of high quality preschool programs; placing value on those programs providing services to three (3) and four (4) year olds but not on those providing services to five (5) year olds.

Children like mine, who are not yet ready to enter Kindergarten and whose teachers support another year of preschool education, are essentially being denied access to Universal Pre-K funds; further widening the education and opportunity gap between wealthy and middle or low income families across our state. Please sign this petition and send a clear message to Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe that Vermonter’s do not support the Agency of Education’s flawed interpretation of the law and their attempts to limit access to preschool education. There is nothing stronger than a parent’s advocacy and we can stop this together!



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