California Leads Gold Rush of State Pre-K Funding

In The News Piece in US News & World Report
Azizen / CC2.0
June 29, 2017

Aaron Loewenberg was mentioned in U.S. News & World Report about California's growing state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. 

In total, 35 percent of 4-year-olds and 9 percent of 3-year-olds are enrolled in state-funded pre-kindergarten. And California is among just a handful of states that met fewer than half of the quality standard benchmarks NIEER includes in its annual analysis of state-funded pre-kindergarten.
"There's a big question about access and the quality of those programs," says Aaron Loewenberg, program associate at new America's Education Policy Program. "You see a lot of efforts in states to try to improve the quality of public programs, but that's a hard task and one that will be ongoing for some time."
In Indiana, a small pilot program serving just five counties is expanding next school year to serve 20 counties.
"It's still fairly small and not serving nearly as many kids as need to be served," Loewenberg says. "But they're starting to do small cautious growth of their pre-K program and I think that's a state to watch."
While states across the U.S. are improving when it comes to early childhood education – albeit slower than advocates would like to see – the U.S. as a whole has a long way to go.
"Right now there are just so few children that are served," Loewenberg says. "Some states don't offer pre-K and others are still serving less than 5 percent of 4-year-olds." 
Indeed, the only other country with a smaller percentage of 3-year-olds enrolled in a program is Turkey, where less than 10 percent of children aged 3 are enrolled, and only Greece, Switzerland and Turkey have a lower percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled.
"I try to look at it optimistically," Loewenberg says. "These programs continue to expand, perhaps not at the rate we would like, but they are expanding."