The Pew Center on the States' Pre-K Now campaign today brought together education leaders, advocates, business leaders, and national and state policy makers to celebrate significant accomplishments in the pre-k movement and highlight Pre-K Now's capstone report, Transforming Public Education: Pathway to a Pre-K-12 Future.
Advocates shared lessons learned from the campaign, and elected officials declared their ongoing support for voluntary pre-kindergarten, detailing how their policies would continue to advance pre-k in their states. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation outlined how pre-k will continue as the linchpin of its early education work.
Pre-K Now's final report, released September 26, 2011, challenges the nation's policy makers to transform public education by moving from a K-12 to a Pre-K-12 system. Backed by rigorous research, the report is informed by interviews with dozens of education experts, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Harlem Children's Zone's Geoffrey Canada, Teach for America's Wendy Kopp, and the American Federation of Teachers' Randi Weingarten.
“The vision of a Pre-K-12 education system is within our reach largely due to the remarkable growth of the pre-k movement over the last decade,” said Marci Young, director of Pre-K Now. “To ensure that all children fulfill their potential as individuals and citizens, we must re-imagine public education as a system that begins, not with kindergarten, but with quality pre-k, and builds on that foundation to raise performance in later grades.”
Pre-K Now was designed as a 10-year catalytic effort, grounded in research, to spark the early learning movement by bringing together different voices and supporting strategic advocacy efforts to advance high-quality voluntary pre-k for three- and four-year olds.
This December, Pre-K Now will mark its 10th anniversary, wrapping up a decade of state and federal policy wins. These gains were made possible through the efforts of funders, advocates and policy makers nationwide who found common ground, identified clear goals, and pushed forward together.
Since 2001, state funding for pre-k has more than doubled nationwide. Access has increased to more than 1 million children, and the quality of state-funded pre-k programs has markedly improved.
“As a movement, what we've learned over the past decade is that catalytic change—the kind that moves things forward exponentially—is very possible, even in times of fiscal challenge,” Young said. “Now is the time members of Congress can affirm the widespread support of pre-k at the state level and follow suit by adding pre-k into the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”
Pre-k is one of the most well-researched public education strategies of the last forty years. The vast body of evidence shows that quality early learning helps children succeed in school and in life, and results in savings to states for every dollar invested. Children who complete quality pre-k programs are more academically and socially prepared when they enter school, less likely to be held back or need special education services, and more likely to complete high school and contribute to their community as adults.
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.pewstates.org