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United Way of Lancaster County


Legislators, citizens to debate early child education in forum

State Sen. Ryan Aument, left, and state Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El.

Two of Lancaster County’s state legislators, Republican state Sen. Ryan Aument and Democratic state Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, will join United Way of Lancaster County and Braver Angels Lower Susquehanna Alliance next week for a “Neighbor to Neighbor Forum” on early childhood education.

The event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, at United Way’s new community space at Landis Place on King, 245 W. King St. The agenda is as follows:

  • 6 p.m.: Casual networking and hors d’oeuvres
  • 7 p.m.: Townhall discussion and breakout groups facilitated by Braver Angels
  • 8 p.m.: Panel discussion with Aument and Smith-Wade-El

The Braver Angels organization is devoted to bridging America’s partisan divide through respectful discussion among people with divergent viewpoints, finding areas of agreement and opportunities for fruitful compromise.

The event is free but space is limited; to reserve tickets, click here. United Way plans to livestream the 8 p.m. panel discussion on its Facebook page.

Aument is the Senate’s majority whip and has been a senator since 2015. He serves on the Senate Education Committee and on the Commission on Education & Economic Competitiveness, charged with redesigning Pennsylvania’s education system.

Smith-Wade-El is in his first term in the House following his election in November 2022 and serves on the chamber’s Education Committee.

Advocates say Pennsylvania should expand subsidies for early childhood education, both to prepare children to enter kindergarten and to free parents to enter the workforce.

The 2023-24 state budget signed last week, however, maintains funding for Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program at existing levels. In a statement, the advocacy group Early Learning Pennsylvania, called the lack of increase “simply unacceptable,” reports Spotlight PA.