The first five years of a child’s life sets the stage for long-term social, cognitive, emotional, physical, and even economic wellbeing. Yet, despite the importance of this critical time of development, opportunities for early childhood enrichment has been overlooked and underfunded in St. Louis and Missouri.
But, if St. Louis voters approve Proposition R on November 3, more taxpayer money will go toward early childhood education for children ages 5 and under. According to the Health Equity Works report, formerly known as For the Sake of All, lack of quality early childhood education is a leading indicator of health disparities between white and Black residents in St. Louis, where white children are 38% more likely than Black children to be enrolled in pre-kindergarten.
Needless to say, our region needs this investment – and that means we need to vote for it. Proposition R, placed on the ballot by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, increases the property tax rate by 6 cents – up to 25 cents per $100 of home value from the current rate of 19 cents – resulting in an estimated $2.3 million annual investment in early childhood education.
The informed readers of The St. Louis American understand the benefits that early childhood programs offer our kids. It is also important to understand how even during these most tumultuous times, investing in the future of our children’s wellbeing is more important than ever. Dealing with the public health crisis of COVID-19 and the recent economic downturn, there is increasing concern over the potential rollback of state investment in early childhood education, which is the last thing our communities and our families need right now.
A property tax increase during a global pandemic and economic calamity may seems counterintuitive, but our current circumstances have shone a glaring spotlight on the inequity in early childhood education and heightened the urgency to improve access to childcare and to support working families. The American strongly recommends a vote of yes on the future of our youngest citizens – The American strongly recommends a vote of yes on Proposition R.
Vote yes on Prop D for Black and progressive power
In the most recent mayoral election in the City of St. Louis, multiple qualified Black candidates were pitted against one another in a winner-take-all primary. In the end, this meant most citizens voted for a Black mayor. We don’t have a Black mayor.
In fact, the City of St. Louis elects mayors with as little as one-third of the primary vote. So, we end up with mayors most voters did not prefer. This is not democratic and diminishes the power of the city’s large Black voting bloc. We can change this on November 3 by passing Proposition D (for Democracy).
Prop D would make three changes to our voting process for St. Louis city elections. First, it creates a nonpartisan primary, meaning we will get to vote on all the candidates. Second, we will have the ability to approve (or disapprove) of every candidate on the ballot. Finally, the two candidates with the most votes in the primary election would advance to a run-off in the general election.
These changes would make it possible for multiple Black candidates to compete in citywide races without risking the possibility of canceling each other out. It could also lift the fortunes of the emerging coalition of Black activists and white progressives pushing for necessary reforms in local governance. So, it’s no wonder elected leaders in this movement, like Cori Bush, Tishaura O. Jones, Rasheen Aldridge and Rev. Darryl Gray, have endorsed the proposal. We, now, add our name to this impressive list. The American strongly recommends a vote of yes on Proposition D.