To the editor:
Uproar in the public square about public school service fees and Kansas University tuition/faculty pay/endowment issues are hopeful sounds for us struggling to finance the early learning of our children 0-5.
About $12,000 annually buys two slots, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for Monday-Friday. We pay for all five days even if you only need four of them to go to work. By kindergarten, we will spend over $53,000. No financial aid officers locate grants for our children even though brain activity for infants, toddlers and preschoolers far exceeds that of primary, secondary and KU scholars.
Three semesters at KU costs about $3,750, a third of what we pay for our little ones. To be fair, $12 of KU fees goes toward retiring the debt on a state-of-the-art early learning facility for students and faculty with small children. Families with small children rely on talented, resourceful teachers who make between $6 and $8 per hour.
There are no school buses to take our children. If we are poor, we take the municipal bus. Douglas County families with small children stretch personal resources, spending collectively an estimated $20 million on early learning services annually. This certainly contributes to the future of our community. After early childhood years, some of us, faced with fees to pay for school buses, may well wonder if we adequately share in supporting public schools. The time has come for local leadership to develop a community endowment and commit local tax moneys to finance quality early learning environments.