WILKES-BARRE — As U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz read “Stripes of All Types” to a group of pre-schoolers at Head Start Monday, she said students who receive early education succeed early and are successful throughout life.
Schwartz, 65, a Democratic candidate for governor, met with children and families who have benefited from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Head Start to discuss the programs and Schwartz’s universal pre-k and full-day kindergarten plans.
“What you have in me is someone who knows the value of these programs and as governor, I will see that they continue,” she said.
Schwartz stopped at several classrooms, and one group had just returned from a visit to the Wilkes-Barre city police station, where they were offered a presentation from Crime Prevention Officer Phil Myers. Schwartz asked them what they had learned.
“Don’t shoot anybody,” one boy shouted. “Guns are bad.”
Schwartz stopped by Head Start on Beekman Street to tour the facility, talk to employees and parents and to offer her support of early education programs.
Lynn Evans Biga, executive director at Head Start, said the agency serves about 1,100 children and has a constant waiting list of 300 to 400.
Schwartz said she is concerned about those left behind. She said pre-school programs are vital not just for academics, but also that they also help children with social skills and overall health care.
“Research shows that if children get a good start, they do better in life,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz said if she were elected governor, she would reinstate the reimbursements for full-day kindergarten. She said teachers have told her that full-time kindergarten students do far better in school.
“And that’s why pre-school programs, like Head Start, are enormously important,” Schwartz said.
To secure funding for education, Schwartz said she would tax the Marcellus Shale industry. She said her experience in Congress would help her secure federal allocations for Pennsylvania.
Schwartz said voters should look to her because of her vast experience. She has a social services background and has served in the state senate and in Congress.
“I’m in this race because we have a governor who has not helping Pennsylvania’s families,” Schwartz said. “I’ll be a governor who will go to bat for the people,” she said.