Defenders praise pre-K Philly, explain missed entry targets

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Anthony Campisi, local spokesperson for the Ax the Philly Beverage Tax Coalition, said the pre-K program was not meeting consumer expectations.

“The tax never lives up to its promises, although it always hurts working families, small businesses and their employees the most,” Campisi said.

Soda companies have fought fiercely against the tax as beverage sales plummeted in the city.

Cooper said this is part of what explains the lower than expected pre-K numbers. Kenney’s plans have been delayed amid lawsuit by soda and grocery companies to stop the soda tax in 2018.

The state Supreme Court ultimately upheld the tax, but, according to Cooper, the lawsuit forced the city to wait a year and a half before deploying funds for pre-K programs.

After that, Cooper said, providers needed an “acceleration period” to expand the capacity of existing pre-K programs and hire enough teachers “prepared to deliver high quality programs.”

Soda tax revenue also declined during the pandemic. It went from $ 76 million in 2019 to $ 70 million in 2020.

By the 2022-2023 school year, the city hopes to reach a total of 5,000 students.

Mount Airy resident Raina Prescott, mother of a pre-K graduate student at Little Einsteins, said her family are living proof the program works.

Prescott lost his job two years ago when he was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an immune system disorder. She was working at the University of Pennsylvania when she fell ill and suddenly lost all of her income.

So she applied for the free program. “God is good, I was able to get her in,” Prescott said.

Her daughter, Brooke, 5, had a speech impediment when she first started, but thanks to a speech-language pathologist, she has benefited immensely, Prescott said, and received the “Most Improved” student award this year. year in school.

“She’s come a long way,” Prescott said. “I’m really proud of her.

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