(Memphis) Some city leaders spent Sunday trying to persuade voters to vote yes for the Memphis Pre-K initiative. That’s a half cent sales tax hike to fund preschool.
Sunday, News Channel 3 met 3-year-old Jayden Felton who can count, say the alphabet, colors and shapes. His mom, Amber, says it’s all thanks to pre-school.
“He’s learning more than what my kindergartener did, she didn’t go,” said Amber Felton.
Last year, Amber Felton couldn’t afford to send Jayden’s sister to pre-school. The kindergartener is the only one of Amber’s 3 kids not afforded that opportunity.
“I felt less because I knew there were certain things I didn’t know how to teach her. Me not being able to pay for her to go, I had to figure it out on my own,” expressed Felton.
That’s part of the reason why Amber is for a half cent sales tax hike. Money raised would go towards educating about 4,500 Memphis preschoolers a year. It’s called the Memphis Pre-K initiative.
Mayor AC Wharton spent the day at several local churches asking people to vote for the initiative. Wharton says studies show, kids who are educated early are more likely to stay in school and out of trouble.
“We’re going to spend the money anyway. Either we spend it on the front end, where we can shape it for a positive purpose. Or we spend it on jails, teenage pregnancy, all those things that are natural extensions of school dropout and failure,” said Wharton.
The sales tax hike breaks down to be a nickel for every ten dollars. Some say it’s a little steep.
“If these 4,500 kids don’t get this funding, how would you feel as a parent, as a grandparent and as mayor?” asked News Channel 3’s Elise Preston.
“I would feel that I failed. That I have not done my job,” replied Wharton.
Even though Amber believes in early education, she’s still not sold on the tax hike.
“I’m concerned that I am going to pay higher taxes for something that’s not going to benefit my kids,” said Felton.
“She said she’s all for it, But can Mayor Wharton guarantee that money in the tax hike will go towards pre-school?” said News Channel 3’s Elise Preston.
“Absolutely we can guarantee it,” replied Wharton.
Wharton says the money will be controlled by an education committee not the city. Voters will decide if that committee will ever see those dollars.
City Councilman Jim Strickland also visited churches Sunday morning.
Early voting continues thru Saturday, Election Day is the