Access to Pre-Kindergarten: Good, But Not Good Enough
Support for early education programs is on the rise in fifteen states that increased funding for pre-kindergarten programs by $205 million according to a new legislative report, released today by The Trust for Early Education (TEE), a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and other funders. "Quality Pre-Kindergarten for All: State Legislative Report" analyzes 2005 state fiscal year budgets and found that even in tough financial times, many states reached bipartisan consensus and allocated resources needed to prepare their youngest constituents to succeed in school.
Unfortunately, the report also shows that almost half of the nation's states flat funded or actually decreased expenditures on existing early learning opportunities for three and four year olds.
"Our report shows that more children than ever are attending pre-kindergarten classes, yet still too many are being left behind," said Libby Doggett, Executive Director of the Trust for Early Education. "Scientific evidence clearly shows that the quality of a pre-kindergartener's learning environment and social experiences lays the foundation for successes in K-12 and the rest of the child's life."
Additional report findings include:
- Fifteen states increased spending on pre-kindergarten, making the program available to an estimated 60,000 more three and four year olds in the upcoming year-a 17 percent increase over the 353,000 children attending pre-kindergarten in 2001: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
- A number of states, including Massachusetts and Indiana, advanced the development of pre-kindergarten programs without major budgetary commitments.
- Seventeen states maintained current funding levels, which amounts to a decrease in real spending due to inflation: Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont.
- Seven states decreased their funding for pre-kindergarten: Louisiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina, Washington and West Virginia.
- Ten states currently do not provide state-funded pre-kindergarten: Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
"This report demonstrates that even in times of economic deficits select state leaders understand that when children attend pre-kindergarten they have a better chance of succeeding in school and in life," said Sue Urahn, director of policy initiatives and Education at The Pew Charitable Trusts. "For every dollar states invest in pre-kindergarten, they save between four and eight dollars in future costs of remedial classes, special education, welfare and expenses associated with juvenile crime."
The Trust for Early Education is a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and other funders to advance quality pre-kindergarten for all children.