Marijuana Legalization Can Reduce School Inequity

Marijuana legalization, which was just passed by the General Assembly, presents a rare opportunity for society to right decades of wrongs. When Governor Northam proposed legalization he included a bold idea to fix generations of inequity in the Commonwealth by requiring that forty percent of the tax revenues be used to fund Virginia’s popular, but underfunded early childhood education system.

As a former legislator, member of the state board of education and local official, I know all too well that economically disadvantaged children are more likely to show up to kindergarten underprepared for school. New data from the University of Virginia tells us how much of a challenge this is.

In northern Virginia, as many as 49% of Alexandria kids, 31% of Arlington kids, 46% of Fairfax, 33% of Loudoun and 44% of Prince William County kids all show up to kindergarten unprepared for success. Outside of Northern Virginia the numbers are similar, rising up to 59% of Richmond City kids and 66% of Northampton kids not being ready. The state average is a depressing 44%. We also know that a disproportionate number of economically disadvantaged families come from black and brown communities.

These children all lack key literacy, math, and social skills to excel in school. They are at a considerable disadvantage to their peers from more well-off families. No child’s potential for success should be governed by their economic status. Yet, strikingly, there are over 20,000 young…

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Marijuana legalization, which was just passed by the General Assembly, presents a rare opportunity for society to right decades of wrongs. When Governor Northam proposed legalization he included a bold idea to fix generations of inequity in the Commonwealth by requiring that forty percent of the tax revenues be used to fund Virginia’s popular, but underfunded early childhood education system.

As a former legislator, member of the state board of education and local official, I know all too well that economically disadvantaged children are more likely to show up to kindergarten underprepared for school. New data from the University of Virginia tells us how much of a challenge this is.

In northern Virginia, as many as 49% of Alexandria kids, 31% of Arlington kids, 46% of Fairfax, 33% of Loudoun and 44% of Prince William County kids all show up to kindergarten unprepared for success. Outside of Northern Virginia the numbers are similar, rising up to 59% of Richmond City kids and 66% of Northampton kids not being ready. The state average is a depressing 44%. We also know that a disproportionate number of economically disadvantaged families come from black and brown communities.

These children all lack key literacy, math, and social skills to excel in school. They are at a considerable disadvantage to their peers from more well-off families. No child’s potential for success should be governed by their economic status. Yet, strikingly, there are over 20,000 young…

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