In 19 States, An Attempt to Protect State Pre-K Investments

Reports of budget cuts are regular news these days. Funding for education and youth programs have not been immune, but, according to a report from the Pew Center on the States, in most states that have pre-K programs, funding will not drop. If all of the governors’ FY11 budgets pass, state investments in pre-kindergarten will get a very slight bump, increasing to $5.3 billion – or about 0.2 percent more than in FY10.

The good news is that:

  • Nine governors (Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, and Tennessee) would increase funding for early education, and
  • Ten governors (Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia) would maintain current funding levels and their commitment to early education.

 The news, however, is not all positive: 12 governors would decrease funding for early education. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer proposes to eliminate funding for pre-kindergarten. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proposes another round of deep cuts (16%) to Preschool for All.

And don’t forget that nine states do not even have state-funded pre-K programs.

(In the nine other states and the District of Columbia, pre-K is included in preK-12 funding formulas based on expected enrollment. Therefore it is not a stand-alone budget line item that can be raised, lowered or eliminated.)

Check out Pew and PreK Now's new Leadership Matters website to learn more about each state and the policies that are driving sustainable pre-K reforms.

While we here at New America are happy to see pre-K remain a priority among many states, we urge the governors who propose cuts to reconsider. Quality pre-K programs are integral to ensuring that all children are ready to succeed in kindergarten; without them, many children begin their schooling already behind.

Author:

Laura Bornfreund is director of early & elementary education policy with the Education Policy program and co-director of the Family Centered Social Policy program at New America. She leads a team of writers and analysts working on new ideas for improving children’s birth-through-third grade learning experiences.