Dayton mayor calls for universal preschool across Ohio in campaign speech

Nan Whaley is running for governor, calls for everyone to have preschool access

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said Friday at a press conference that as governor of Ohio, she will accept federal dollars that give Ohioans access to high-quality preschool, as many Dayton families now have with Preschool Promise.

Whaley noted paying for preschool is in the Build Back Better plan currently in Congress, and if that law is passed, states will have to choose whether or not to accept the money.

Whaley, a Democrat, has announced her run for governor of Ohio.

Whaley spoke at On Purpose Academy, a Preschool Promise-affiliated school located at 51 Best Street just north of downtown on Friday. She was joined by U.S. Senator for Ohio, Sherrod Brown, who has endorsed Whaley for governor; Kim Jarvis, director of On Purpose Academy; and Chloe Morgan, a mom of four kids, three of whom have gone through Preschool Promise.

Morgan’s youngest, who is 3 years old, is currently attending On Purpose Academy, she said. Morgan said of her older two kids, she notices a difference between the abilities of her 6-year-old, who can read at a second-grade level and was able to attend preschool, and her 8-year-old, who wasn’t able to go to preschool.

“It’s kind of some of those benefits you don’t see until later,” Morgan said.

Preschool Promise is in seven cities in Montgomery County, including Dayton, Kettering and West Carrollton. It is a non-profit funded by Montgomery County, the city of Dayton and local philanthropists to help 4-year-olds and 3-year-olds who reside in those seven districts get ready for kindergarten, according to the Preschool Promise website.

Morgan thanked Jarvis for staying open throughout the pandemic, as Morgan, a Dayton resident, said she is an essential worker and a single parent who couldn’t stop going to work during the pandemic.

Whaley said the Preschool Promise plan would raise the wages of child care workers like Jarvis as well as lowering the amount of money families have to spend on preschool. She said it can be done by raising taxes on the wealthiest people in Ohio.

“What we’ve seen at the statehouse is we have seen the burden of tax actually be higher for middle class and people that work every day and less for big corporations and the wealthy,” Whaley said. “And all I’m saying is they should pay their fair share.”

Whaley said she would also consider the burden on seniors, who pay property taxes that usually go up as they age in their homes. Whaley said the problem is that many of the state tax cuts have added to local schools’ burden, leading the schools to ask for more money in a school levy. But that added property tax adds to the financial strain on seniors.

“The state needs to make sure that wages go up and bills go down,” Whaley said.

Brenton Temple, a campaign spokesman for Ohio governor Mike DeWine, the presumptive Republican nominee, said DeWine has a history of fighting for Ohio’s children.

“From supporting children’s mental and physical health through home visiting programs and the Student Wellness and Success Fund to promoting school readiness with the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, Governor DeWine believes that by ensuring kids have the opportunity to succeed, we are putting Ohio on the path to a brighter future,” Temple said.

Brown said the Build Back Better plan would help parents like Morgan, because it includes a tax cut for families with children. Morgan said she expects about a $6,000 tax cut for her family.

“This is the largest tax cut in American history for working families,” Brown said.

About the Author