State Legislatures Champion Pre-K as Educational Priority

State Legislatures Champion Pre-K as Educational Priority

Pre-K Now today released “Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K Fiscal Year 2007,” an annual national report of every state and the District of Columbia's final funding of pre-kindergarten education for three and four year old children. For FY07, a record-setting 31 state legislatures committed to increased funding for pre-k, offering more families access to voluntary pre-k and improved program quality. Notably, no state legislative body authorized decreased funding for pre-k. Over just the past two years states have increased pre-k spending by more than $1 billion.

“Legislators recognize pre-k as the first step to improving K-12 education,” said Libby Doggett, executive director of Pre-K Now. “They want a proven solution that helps children enter school prepared - pre-k is that solution.”

Legislators nationwide embraced pre-k with bipartisan zeal putting children's educational success above party bickering. Southern legislatures in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia joined this year by South Carolina and Kentucky, continued to set the pre-k pace as a region. Illinois made pre-k history by committing to provide voluntary early education for all three and four year olds over the next few years. Southwestern states like Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado, increased access to pre-k for thousands of children. However, as in years past, young children in the Great Plains and Northern Rockies were left behind by legislatures that did not recognize the power of pre-k to help reform schools and improve their state's future workforce.

Additional report findings show that:

  • Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia increased pre-k funding for FY07, totaling more than $450 million;
  • Three states for which final budgets for pre-k are not available anticipate increases, six states flat funded and 10 states, six of them located in the Northern Rockies and Plains, still have no pre-k programs; and
  • Among legislatures which increased funding for pre-k, 15 have Democratic majorities, 10 have Republican majorities and six have split legislatures.

“Pre-k is changing the face of public education,” Doggett said. “Legislators understand that pre-k is more than a children's issue – it's an important foundation for successful school systems and strong communities.”

To quickly view what is said about your state in "Votes Count" go to Pre-K Now's website.

Pre-K Now collaborates with state advocates and policymakers to lead a movement for high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all three and four year olds. The following funders have contributed to making this important work possible: The Pew Charitable Trusts, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, CityBridge Foundation, and the Schumann Fund for New Jersey.