• • • • • • Education, Including Preschool, Is the Leading Issue
Voters rank improving Tennessee’s education system—including preschool—as an
“extremely or very high priority,” EVEN when compared to other popular issues.
• • • • • • Voters Agree: The Early Years Are Important
Voters recognize the vital role education can play in the early years of development, saying ages
0 to 5 are important, with a majority of voters recognizing that these years are “extremely important.”
• • • • • • Voters Support Expanding Preschool
An overwhelming majority of voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who said this about preschool:
“Only 16 percent of low-income children are being served by preschool programs in Tennessee. That means over 90,000
low-income kids who could benefit most from high-quality early education have no access to pre-kindergarten. I want to
expand funding so at least the lowest-income 4-year-olds who want to attend preschool have access in our state, and
help ensure more kids have an equal opportunity to succeed.”
• • • • • • Child Care: A Bipartisan Issue
There is strong bipartisan agreement on changing child care assistance. Majorities of both parties
agree they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who would change how state-funded child care
assistance works and end the strict income cutoff to benefits.
Message Guidance for Candidates on Early Childhood Education
The six statements below are powerful messages that resonate with Tennessee voters to support
new investments in early childhood education. At least 66 percent of voters say these statements
are convincing arguments in favor of early childhood care and education.
Below are the top three messages ranked in order of most powerful for each target audience
of voters, color coded to correspond with the message chart.
Policy That Advances High-Quality Early Childhood Education
• • • • • • SUMMARY: PRESCHOOL SHOULD BE UNIVERSALLY ACCESSIBLE
A wide majority of Tennessee voters want preschool to be accessible to all
families and not be a needs-based assistance program.
The proof: 63 percent of Tennessee voters believe public education should start at pre-K
and be offered to all 4-year-olds. Only 4 percent say it should be offered to low-income kids,
and just 27 percent think it should not be part of public schools.
The following are policy proposals that Tennessee voters overwhelmingly support to expand
preschool and invest in early childhood education, ranked in order of popularity. The total
percentage is the sum of voters who are “much more” or “somewhat more likely” to vote for a
candidate who advocates for these policies during his or her campaign.
Only 16 percent of low-income children are being served by preschool programs in Tennessee.
That means over 90,000 low-income kids who could benefit most from high-quality early
education have no access to pre-kindergarten. I want to expand funding so at least the lowest
income 4-year-olds who want to attend preschool have access in our state, and help ensure
more kids have an equal opportunity to succeed.
In Tennessee, it should pay to work hard. I support changing the way childcare assistance
works so that we can end the cycle of poverty. Families that reach a certain income level get cut
off from any childcare assistance. Instead of a strict cutoff, I believe we should gradually lower
the amount of assistance families get, so they still have help with childcare costs, enabling them
to get out of poverty and move into the middle class.
Tennessee needs to reform its public schools, and that includes investing in high-quality early
childhood education so our youngest students enter the K through 12 system ready to learn.
As governor, I will expand funding to improve the quality of, and increase access to, our
state’s Voluntary Pre-K program.
The State of Tennessee can assist families and help parents by providing voluntary home visiting
programs that vulnerable parents can access, such as voluntary home visiting counselors to vulnerable
parents in need, such as parents fighting heroin and opioid addiction. We currently reach less than 2%
of the families who are eligible for these programs, and I support expanding this program to reach more
families so our children’s parents can parent better.
• • • • • • DID YOU KNOW?
Voters Want Investments in Early Education, Even if It Means a Slight Tax Increase
Sixty-seven percent of voters said they would support a candidate that came out in FAVOR of
investing in high-quality early childhood education programs and child care, even if it meant a
slight tax increase. Among the 67 percent, Republican primary voters are more likely to support
this policy by 54 percent, and Democratic primary voters support it by 89 percent.
What Tennessee Voters are Saying