Susan K. Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States, released the following statement on the “The State of Preschool 2008: State Preschool Yearbook.” The Yearbook, published annually by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), reports enrollment, quality standards and per-child spending for all state-funded pre-k programs in the United States. NIEER was established in 2001, with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, to provide objective, nonpartisan, research-based information on early childhood education initiatives.
“Pew and its Pre-K Now campaign are pleased to see evidence that 2008 brought us a few steps closer to meeting the early education needs of our nation's children. However, in spite of steady increases in enrollment and state funding, far too many children continue to be denied the quality pre-kindergarten opportunities they need to help them succeed in school and in life.
“At the current rate of program expansion, according to NIEER, it will take another 20 years to achieve voluntary pre-k for all four-year-olds. This slow pace could amount to a generation of missed chances to improve children's lives and develop the human capital our economy needs.
“Furthermore, where a child lives unfortunately continues to dictate whether his or her parents will have quality, affordable pre-k options. In fact, the latest Yearbook shows growing disparities in funding, quality and access between the states that are committed to pre-k and those that are not. No matter what state they live in, all families should have access to proven early learning programs.
“Secretary Arne Duncan's participation in today's release again demonstrates the importance of early education to the Obama administration. We hope that states can count on the administration's support to ensure pre-k funding remains a priority even under very difficult budget circumstances.”