UPDATE: This post has been edited to correct errors related to the candidates’ position on pre-K and public education. I regret the error.

Why does pre-K matter? The answer is that professional educators wouldn’t be so gung-ho about pre-kindergarten instruction unless they saw the huge value – both in terms of knowledge such as vocabulary development and non-cognitive skills such as character development – in getting kids ready for kindergarten, which is the ultimate objective. A cost-benefit analysis of universally accessible pre-K by researchers at Texas A&M has shown that students in pre-K are less likely to repeat grades and are more likely to excel on standardized tests and to attend college. They also know that given the profound changes in the students in our state’s school districts, programs that help prepare students for public school (and beyond) is more important than ever.