In light of the recently released NIEER report showing significant state cuts in preschool funding, I decided to look and see how states that receive Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grants from the Department of Education fared in terms of preschool funding and access in 2011-12. After all, Early Learning Challenge Grant funds were supposed to reward state that had made significant commitments to quality early childhood education. So states that got the grants should have been less likely to make funding or access cuts in preschool than others, right? Wrong. A cursory glance shows that several ELC winners made significant cuts in pre-k funding or access in 2011-12. Note that states had already made these funding and access cuts before they were awarded ELC grants--and they still received the grants. California cut preschool spending by $1,009 a child in 2011-12 and cut the number of slots by more than 5,000 (which reduced access statewide by 1 percentage point). Maryland, another RTT-ELC winner, cut pre-k spending per pupil by $946. And North Carolina reduced the total percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-k by 5 percentage points. Another data point showing that ELC was not about preschool.
The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.