Marci Young, director of Pre-K Now, a campaign of the Pew Center on the States, issued the following statement on the release of the National Institute for Early Education Research's (NIEER) 2010 State Preschool Yearbook, which found that total state pre-k spending declined slightly for the 2009-2010 school year. The findings come as advocates are urging Congress to update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) with a strong early learning component.
“Quality early education is essential, not expendable. As state legislators debate budget proposals, they need to recognize that now is not the time to undercut the quality of pre-k programs and potentially reduce the strong returns on taxpayer investments.
“The 2010 State Preschool Yearbook findings underscore the tremendous stress on states as they fight to protect their vital pre-k investments. The report reinforces the urgent need for federal support of the Early Learning Challenge Fund and other key early learning proposals.
“It's promising to see early childhood education added as a new priority in Race to the Top as part of the Continuing Resolution. We see its inclusion as a strong signal that federal support for early learning is gathering momentum and that lawmakers recognize it's a smart investment that should be fundamental to any serious education reform effort.
“As states work vigorously to protect their early learning investments, Congress should support them by including high-quality early education in the reauthorization of ESEA.”
The Pew Center on the States is a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts that identifies and advances effective solutions to critical issues facing states. Pew is a nonprofit organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. www.pewcenteronthestates.org
The National Institute for Early Education Research (www.nieer.org), a unit of the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, supports early childhood education policy by providing objective, nonpartisan information based on research. NIEER is supported through grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts and others.