As many as 200 young children, parents and child care providers rallied at San Francisco’s City Hall Friday morning urging city and state lawmakers to support funding for early childhood education.
Scores of preschool students, younger toddlers and babies with child care providers, teachers and parents sat on the Polk Street steps of City Hall while holding signs reading “Invest in me,” “No more cuts” and “Support SF’s children and families.”
Hundreds of millions of dollars in state cuts in the past few years have affected early child care and education subsides for San Francisco residents, with more than 3,800 students waiting for an ECE placement in San Francisco as of last month, according to Gretchen Ames, director of the San Francisco Child Care Providers’ Association.
Early childhood education proponents are asking for the reinstatement of subsidies cut from the state budget totaling about $13.8 million that would have gone to San Francisco young families since 2010.
San Francisco supervisors Norman Yee, John Avalos, David Chiu and Eric Mar vowed city support to provide continued early education.
“We will show the city we care about child care,” Yee said.
Chiu sympathized with the providers and caretakers that face wage cuts and possible program closures.
“We know you work incredibly hard, we know you don’t get paid enough,” Chiu said.
Mar acknowledged that this week has been designated as Week of the Young Child nationwide but said, “every day is of the young child.”
Preschool teacher Gilbert Cardenas touted the benefits of early education opportunities.
“These children have a large capacity to learn and succeed,” Cardenas said.
Parent June Hall said she received funding for her now 10-year-old son to attend preschool at Marin Day School, which laid a strong academic foundation that she otherwise would not have been able to afford.
“I used to tell my son you have a right to a quality education,” she said.
Before leading a walk around the block, Yee sang along with the youngsters in a round of the “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
The group walked—with some children in strollers and wagons—around City Hall, a symbolic march that coincided with as many as a dozen other child care centers marching with students in other neighborhoods, Ames said.
Following the walk around the block, children who participated in the demonstration received picture books donated by the San Francisco Early Literacy Network and First 5 San Francisco’s program Preschool for All.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News