What If…1% Of A Trillion Dollars Was Available For Education?

It’s the fourth part of our Why Child Care Matters series with our guest blogger, Sarah, emphasizing the need for quality child care and early learning. Child care can present a huge barrier for parents working to provide for their families and an obstacle that does not often receive much attention. In this series, we hope to shed more light on this issue and make connections between child care and homelessness. 

Written by Sarah Swihart, MPA candidate at Seattle University. 

Small businesses to large corporations are generally searching for innovative, fast thinking employees who work well with others. Generally people develop these skills beginning at a young age and cultivate them throughout life. We invest in our future in a variety of capacities and public education is a large piece of the investment pie.  When researching how to answer my last question, “how do we improve child care facilities while also making it affordable for all families” my immediate reaction was funding.

I attacked this colossal question by attempting to think as a conservative, liberal, democrat, non-partisan woman/educator/aunt. How in the world can all parties agree on an issue like education? I stopped this thought immediately and modified it-how can anyone not want to educate our children?

I think we can all agree that the United States spends a lot of money, yet where does all of this money go? Conservatives might say to the poor, while liberals and democrats might agree the military. Either way, does anyone really know?

Fact: the $3.5 trillion spent in 2011 went to Social Security (20.4%), Medicare (13.1%) and the National Defense (20.1%). A small slice of the pie is for poor (5.3%) and educating our children (3.7%).

Infographic credit: by Fiscal Fact Check

How do we pay for all of this? Payroll taxes (40.0%), and Individual Income Taxes (41.5%) are the largest contributors, while Corporations contribute only 8.9%. 

Infographic credit: by Fiscal Fact Check

I’m sure many of you can relate when I say, “having 20% of my meager paycheck go to the dark tax pit is a little annoying.” And NO, not because I don’t want to pay them, because I do. I believe using tax dollars to invest in education, social security, medicare, and assisting people who are not as fortunate as me is a logical way of doing so. What infuriates me is knowing that most of the revenue made in the United States is generated by corporations, yet they are paying around 9% in taxes

So, back to my original question and my first gut reaction-funding.

What if…

Corporations were taxed there fair share and a percentage (we’re talking 1%) went directly to funding their future employees, aka education.

Did you know?

The combined income of the top 24 US Corporations totals more than $2.6 trillion.1% of their income would contribute billions of dollars to education. On average it costs $10k to fund one child, that 1% could fund a lot of children. The money could also increase pay for teachers, child care providers, supply up to date text books and other classroom supplies.

What if…

There was more accountability within our tax structure and more transparency so when we hear the word tax we don’t immediately cringe and say NO!

When speaking with Degale Cooper, the Services Director at the YWCA Family Village at Issaquah, we discussed folks who provide care for other family members and friends and how most of them don’t think of themselves as a child care provider. How do we get this large segment of the population to think of themselves as educators? Well, what about supplying them with material, hold workshops, and create in school networks. And what better place than the schools to act as a conduit; supply take home resources for parents that will generate a conversation and shift the way we think of child care.

Child Care Resources of Seattle does exactly this, but they can’t do it alone. The trillions of dollars should fund more non-profits like CCR. They assist low-income and homeless families with child care placement, CCR trains low-income women transitioning from welfare to work to start home-based child care businesses or begin a career as a teacher in a child care program, and they are advocates for families in our community. They interrupt the cycle of poverty through education.

Preschool classrooms from the YWCA Family Village take a field trip to Woodland Park Zoo.Photo Courtesy of the YWCA Family Village.

What if…

We stopped thinking of early childhood learning and child care as a bonus for schools and communities and thought of them as a part of our education system?

Did you know?

Other countries share over half the cost of child care while the U.S provides only a small percentage? Most families in other countries (even developing ones) pay less 30% of their income towards child care.

 Country Percentage of Children in Publicly Supported Care Share of Child Care Costs Covered by Government


My grandmother’s generation started a revolution, they fought for rights that we now take for granted. ATTENTION LADIES: the fight is not over. Access to affordable childcare provides us with the opportunity to have it all; a career, a family, financial independence, an education, and so much more-equality. Access to early childhood learning provides our most needy children the opportunity to succeed in school, to love learning, and dream.

How can anyone not want a better future for our country and world?

Child care policies are the answer and where our voices must be heard. With the upcoming election, I’ve asked myself who is running that’s talking about child care, homelessness, women’s issues, poverty, and the widening income gap? Who is talking the talk and walking the walk? I’m throwing the gauntlet down for myself  and you; dig deep, research the policies our future representatives have supported and not supported. We can make a difference if we stand together. Up next in the final installment of this series–POLICIES.

Other Non-Profits Getting the Work Done

United Way of King County

United Way of Whatcom County (funding child care programs for teen mothers in high school who do perform well academically; giving them a chance at a bright future).

Seattle Universtiy Youth Initiative


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