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Pre-K funding is delivered another blow

April 29, 2013|By Dalina Castellanos
  • Preschool teacher Janet Matthews leads class as youngsters in a PACE Early Childhood Education program in Los Angeles pay rapt attention.
Preschool teacher Janet Matthews leads class as youngsters in a PACE Early… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

States are spending less on pre-kindergarten programs than they did a decade ago, according to a report released Monday.

The National Institute for Early Education Research released the State of Preschool 2012 report, calling the last school year “the worst in a decade for progress in access to high-quality pre-K for America’s children.”

California state funding per child fell by more than than $400 compared with the previous year, and only 41% of 4-year-olds were served by public pre-K programs and Head Start in the 2011-12 school year, the institute reported.

The findings have ignited arguments on both sides of the issue.

“While the NIEER data may seem daunting, we hope that these numbers will illuminate the need for cost-effective investments in our nation’s youngest children,” said Kris Perry, executive director of First Five Years Fund.

“The recent easing of the sequestration’s effects on flight delays shows that Congress can and will act to prioritize critical investments in U.S. infrastructure," she said. "Quality early childhood programs are a critical part of our nation’s economic strength; without them our children are stuck on the runway with little chance of ever taking off.”

Still, the report found that some existing programs are inadequate and have not met quality standards. Seven programs failed to meet nine out of 10 benchmarks. Five of those programs didn't meet targets because decreased funding cut the number of site visits needed to monitor them.

“This research reinforces the urgent need for California to reinvest in early childhood education,” said Ernesto Saldana, spokesman for Californians for President Obama’s Early Learning Plan. “Now is the time to leverage President Obama’s support and the national momentum for early learning to ensure California is well-positioned to meet quality benchmarks and leverage new federal funding.”

Earlier this month, President Obama proposed a 94-cent tax hike on cigarettes for his "Preschool for All" plan in the budget presented to Congress.

The hike is projected to generate more than $78 billion over 10 years.


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Twitter: @dalinac

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