New Latino Voter Poll Finds Strong Support for Candidates Who Back Preschool

Posted on 09 September 2010

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionSend by emailSend by email

By Catherine Atkin

Each week, we hear new reports about candidates’ efforts to reach out to the Latino community, which accounts for 1 in 5 registered voters, and their messages about creating jobs, fixing our schools and building a brighter future for California.

Left out of these proposals, however, is an important first step in education reform – providing access to high-quality early learning programs that help lay the foundation for our children to start school ready to learn and succeed. This is a critical issue for Latino children, who account for more than half of all children under age 5, and who by 2025, will make up almost half of the new labor force in California.   

Given these facts, candidates should take note of a recent bipartisan survey conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates and The Tarrance Group, which found that 85 percent of Latino voters in California think children who attend preschool have an advantage over children who do not attend.  In fact, nearly 7 in 10 Latino voters polled said they are more likely to support candidates who want to increase funding to make high-quality early learning and preschool more accessible and affordable. 

The poll of 895 Latino voters revealed the deep understanding they have about the benefits of preschool: they embrace it as an opportunity to take advantage of the period from birth to age 5, when children’s brains are like sponges, to build social skills and support language development.  As a matter of fact, research shows Latino children showed the largest improvements of any group in the early reading and math skills that predict later achievement in school.

Latino voters also recognize the obstacles faced by families who want to provide their children with high-quality early learning.  The poll cited a shortage of affordable programs, a dearth of part-day programs that fit schedules of working parents and parents’ lack of information about programs available as the main reasons Latino children are not in preschool.  Two-thirds of those polled think the state is doing too little to ensure all children have access to affordable high-quality preschool, and they are right.  This sentiment is unsurprising in a state where only 14 percent of Latino children are enrolled in high-quality preschools that prepare them for success in school. 

Latinos understand the impact that high-quality early learning can have on the lives of their children and on the future for California, and an impressive 91 percent of Latino voters across all demographics and political affiliations agree that despite California’s economic and budgetary challenges, the state should continue to support access to high-quality preschool. 

This poll should send a powerful message to candidates in the November election.  California’s future depends on ensuring young Latino children have the opportunity to access early education that builds the foundation they need to excel in school, placing them on the pathway to success in college their careers.  Early learning ought to be a top campaign issue for California candidates seeking to earn Latino votes. 


Catherine Atkin is president of Preschool California, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to increase access to high-quality preschool for all of California’s children, starting with those who need it most.