Pre-K Now today released Leadership Matters: Governors' Pre-K Proposals Fiscal Year 2007, a comprehensive analysis of governors' leadership and budgetary commitments to expanding access to pre-kindergarten. If legislatures across the country approve these proposals, for the third straight year more children than ever before will have access to pre-k. Every governor who proposed pre-k increases last year received state legislative approval for increased funds.
"Two years ago just 11of the nation's governors had pre-k on their policy and budgetary agendas," said Libby Doggett, Ph.D., executive director of Pre-K Now. "Our report shows that number has more than doubled with proposals by 24 governors to increase funding for pre-k. We expect these commitments to guide state legislatures and improve our schools. High-quality pre-k is critical to helping states meet the standards and mandates of No Child Left Behind and is the first step to improving K-12 education."
Gubernatorial increases to pre-k were bolstered for 2007 by favorable state revenue forecasts. Twenty-two states are likely to enjoy increased income in fiscal year 2007 while 26 others anticipate fiscal stability. Governors who once felt hamstrung by budget shortfalls are emerging with plans to improve educational opportunities in their states by advancing pre-k.
Unfortunately, the national trend has not caught on in ten states which still provide no funding for pre-k, collectively called 'wilderness states' in the pre-k field because their young learners are left out of the education system. These states continue to lack bold, visionary leadership from their governors on an education strategy that would benefit children, families and their state's economies.
Pre-k has also found its way onto the campaign trail. With 84% of voters expressing a belief that pre-k prepares children to succeed in school and should be a priority investment, it's hardly surprising that gubernatorial candidates nationwide are using pre-k as a campaign strategy.
The report also found that:
- The trend toward increased funding for pre-k enjoys the bipartisan support of 11 Republican and 13 Democratic leaders, including the mayor of D.C.;
- Gubernatorial budget proposal increases for FY07 averaged 25 percent; Governors in every region of the country proposed increases for pre-k and only two governors proposed decreased funding for pre-k;
- Despite continued budget deficits in their states, governors in Connecticut, Illinois and Washington found a way to propose increases to pre-k totaling more than $46 million; and
- Southern governors lead regionally when it comes to offering pre-k, but Midwestern governors stand out for strong individual leadership.
"Political will is critical to moving pre-k forward in any state," Doggett said. "Governors are committed to reforming an American education system which is failing many children. High-quality pre-k is a proven way to begin those efforts."
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.