Democrat Ed FitzGerald Campaigns for Universal Pre-K in Ohio

FitzGerald addresses OEA
Ed FitzGerald addresses the Ohio Education Association's 2014 Spring Representative Assembly

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald is making universal taxpayer-funded preschool a centerpiece of his campaign to unseat Republican Governor John Kasich, in an obvious nod to his union backers.

Ed just unveiled his first major policy of the campaign: Pre-Kindergarten for every Ohio child,” a May 14 FitzGerald campaign email announced.

Before releasing his “Pre-K All the Way” plan this week, FitzGerald expressed his support for universal preschool at the Ohio Education Association (OEA) spring representative assembly on May 9.

Pre-K has been shown to put kids ahead in reading, writing, and math,” campaign communications director Daniel McElhatton asserted. “Pre-K’s positive effects can continue to rollover into grade school, high school, and beyond. Ed believes Ohio kids deserve every opportunity we can afford to give them, and that starts with Pre-K.”

FitzGerald’s prioritization of increased government spending comes as no surprise. OEA and most of the state’s other powerful labor unions had already endorsed FitzGerald by the end of 2013.

Without even accounting for donations during the most recent reporting period, FitzGerald has received tens of thousands of dollars from OEA and other unions whose income is taken from public employees’ paychecks.

President Obama endorsed universal preschool in his 2013 State of the Union speech, though years of research have found that the federal Head Start program is not effective.

Regardless of the efficacy of pouring more taxpayer money into public education, FitzGerald’s announcement was met with support from union bosses looking to fill their own pockets.

Giving teachers the resources they need to create successful, life long learners is vital to an economically secure Ohio,” said OEA President Becky Higgins. “Universal pre-k and all day pre-k ensure the Ohio’s students are prepared to learn in our public schools.”

Universal pre-K is the most important action that the state can take to close the opportunity gaps for children entering Kindergarten,” said Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper.

Providing universal pre-K to Ohio’s children should not be a partisan decision,” said Ohio Association of Public School Employees Executive Director Joe Rugola, who last spring compared workplace freedom to slavery and suggested its supporters are like Nazis.

On May 15, Friends of FitzGerald-Neuhardt Digital Director Malinda Frevert asked subscribers to the campaign mailing list to share the following graphic promoting universal preschool as a way to generate $5 in economic stimulus for every $1 in taxpayer funding.


“Tax cuts for the wealthy aren’t going to educate our kids — but you wouldn’t believe it by looking at Governor Kasich’s budgets for the last three years,” asserted another FitzGerald campaign email the following day.

“That’s why Ed launched the first major policy piece of his plan to make Ohio work for everyone: universal Pre-Kindergarten. He knows that better education leads to a better economy.”

FitzGerald’s education talking points piggy-back on Big Labor’s insistence that Gov. Kasich, who has increased state spending in both of his biennial budgets, has drastically cut education funding. OEA and union front group Ohioans United have led the way in pushing this narrative.

In addition to funding his campaign, Ohio AFL-CIO has been pitching FitzGerald to union members with a six-minute video blending mangled legacy media coverage of 2011’s Senate Bill 5 with union propaganda about Kasich’s “attacks” on workers.

FitzGerald had roughly $1.5 million on hand compared to Kasich’s $8.5 million war chest as of the most recent reporting deadline. A Quinnipiac poll released this week found that Kasich’s lead among registered voters has tripled from 5 points to 15.