10/26/2009 - Claims from Massachusetts officials about a report from Pew Center on the States on prekindergarten funding are inaccurate and unfounded (“State Disputes Report on Cuts to Prekindergarten Spending,’’ Metro, Oct. 22).
Pew reports that Massachusetts fiscal 2010 funding for high-quality pre-k programs totaled $34.3 million, representing a 21.6 percent decrease from fiscal 2009’s final budget. These numbers are from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.
Massachusetts is to be commended for investing in a wide range of programs for children from birth to age five. However, those investments are not a substitute for high-quality pre-k. Our report focuses specifically on state investments in high-quality prekindergarten – an education reform strategy that is critical to improving children’s cognitive and noncognitive skills, increasing their educational attainment and ultimately, enhancing the quality and productivity of the state’s workforce.
As of 2008, more than 70 percent of three- and four-year-olds in Massachusetts did not have access to publicly funded early education programs.
During these dire economic times, families are looking to their state leaders to make responsible decisions, and 29 states and the District of Columbia made the wise choice to increase or protect pre-k funding this year. Massachusetts lawmakers, despite their commitments to expand quality pre-k, made the second-largest cut to state funding. This is a setback for working families and the efforts to build human capital essential for economic success in Massachusetts.
We urge state leaders to follow through with their promises next year and restore funding for high-quality pre-k.
Susan K. Urahn is the managing director of the Pew Center on the States in Washington, D.C.