New Orleanians to Vote on Early Education Millage April 30

USMC Photo by MC2 Josue L. Escobosa

New Orleans voters will head to the polls on April 30 to determine the fate of an early education millage that would allow for an additional 2,000 low-income children to be served by early education programs across New Orleans.

According to New Orleans Public Schools, 62 percent of low-income children did not have access to a publicly funded early childhood education program. This is a concern because 90 percent of brain development occurs before a child is six years old. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):

“Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than preparation for primary school. It aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. ECCE has the possibility to nurture caring, capable and responsible future citizens.”

The Early Childhood Proposition asks voters to authorize the City of New Orleans to charge taxpayers a special tax of five mills on all taxable property within Orleans Parish for the next twenty years – from January 1 2023 through December 31, 2042. The measure specifies that “all tax proceeds will be dedicated exclusively to programs and capital investments that would provide childcare and educational opportunities for Orleans Parish children who have not yet entered kindergarten.”

Proponents of the measure are rallying under the slogan “YES for NOLA Kids,” and note that while the tax itself would generate around $21 million each year (enough to pay for more than 1,000 low-income children ages 0-3 to enroll in early childhood education), it could be double that. State matching funds could mean another $21 million is raised, helping over 2,000 New Orleans children.

Under a five-year agreement approved by the City Council, the money raised by the millage would be managed by the nonprofit Agenda for Children, whose share of the funds would be capped at $1 million per year. NOPS itself would receive $1,500 per child. A full 70 percent of the money would go directly to programs for infants and toddlers, with the rest paying for health screenings, additional social workers, start-up costs, and administrative costs. To keep the nonprofit accountable, the agreement mandates quarterly public reports on the program’s operations and finances.

The measure has received support from the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, a nonpartisan nonprofit that provides parents, community members, and policymakers data, research, and information on issues related to early childhood education and care.

This measure is the only one on the ballot on April 30.

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