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Attempt to Fund Pre-School for At-Risk Children Fails in Senate

Brian Grimmett

A controversial bill that would help create preschool programs for at-risk children failed in the Utah Senate today.

Republican Senator Aaron Osmond’s SB71 would have created a unique private/public partnership that helped fund early childhood education programs for at-risk students. Private companies would invest the initial money to help the programs get started and subsidize student costs. Then, if the program helped districts avoid special education costs and eliminated the current achievement gap seen among at-risk students the state would reimburse part, if not all of the original investment. Among the several senators that voiced their concerns before voting down the bill, was Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem. She says that closing the achievement gap isn’t a noble goal and that we shouldn’t be forcing parents to do anything.

“If we truly want to close the achievement gap all we got to do is lower the top, if that’s our goal," she says. "Our goal should not be aimed at closing the achievement gap our goal should be allowing kids to learn at their own rate at what’s best for them.”

Osmond says he is disappointed with the result but that he doesn’t have any plans on giving up.

“I really believe that we can do better in helping our youth and the parents that care about them so much," he says. "These parents want these programs. They’re asking for help. I believe it is an opportunity for us to save millions of dollars in our public education budget.”

Osmond says he’ll work on the bill during the interim and that he believes that given time and a little more understanding of what the bill does that the other senators will come around.

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