Each year, state lawmakers around the nation are faced with the daunting task of selecting, from among countless programs, those that represent the wisest investment of taxpayer dollars. I am pleased to report that, in 2007, 36 states, including eight which anticipate enrollment-based funding increases, identified high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten as a cost-effective and socially responsible program worthy of increased funding. These new FY08 state pre-k investments exceed half a billion dollars.
In addition to supporting substantial new dollars, a number of state legislatures passed landmark bills, instituting important quality measures such as bachelor’s degree requirements for pre-k teachers, expanding eligibility for targeted early education programs, and, most importantly, establishing pre-k for all children. These new laws reflect the growing, bipartisan understanding that providing high-quality pre-k programs to increasing numbers of children is smart public policy that improves the quality of life for everyone.
And this year, the pre-k message is being heard in the halls of Congress. Three comprehensive bills were introduced during the 2007 session that would authorize federal funding to support state-administered pre-k programs. The sponsors of these bills come from both parties and from states across the country, but their bills share the common recognition that high-quality pre-k is an essential educational program from which all children benefit.
This year’s edition of “Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K” celebrates those state legislatures that made smart investments and passed important legislation in support of high-quality pre-k. Yet, it also issues a call to action in those states where lawmakers continue to neglect early education, leaving their states’ young children at a disadvantage compared to their peers around the country and around the world.
Pre-K Now and The Pew Charitable Trusts commend our national and state leaders as they move to provide high-quality pre-k to more three and four year olds, and we encourage those still lagging to join this powerful movement. These investments, when paired with sound policies that support and sustain quality, will pay dividends for our states, for our society, and for generations of Americans to come.
Susan K. Urahn
Managing Director, The Pew Center on the States
To quickly view what is said about your state in "Votes Count" go to Pre-K Now's Web site.