Report Roundup

Pre-K Study Shows Good and Bad News

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The State of Preschool 2007

More than 1 million 3- and 4-year-olds now attend public preschool programs in the United States, but 12 states still don’t have publicly financed programs, according to the newest yearbook from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

Released annually since 2004, the report tracks state developments in offering early-childhood-education programs. It ranks states on the percentage of eligible children enrolled and on 10 measures of quality, such as having teachers with bachelor’s degrees, providing comprehensive services in addition to education activities, and providing nutritious meals.

The report also takes a particularly close look at four states—California, Florida, Ohio, and Texas—which enroll the bulk of children served in those programs, but meet fewer than half the 10 quality benchmarks.

“The nation made progress this year, but when you dig deep into the data, the picture is not so rosy,” W. Steven Barnett, the director of the institute, said in a statement.

Among the children who still don’t attend government-financed preschool, he added, most are from middle-class families that cannot afford expensive private preschools.

“States must decide whether education of young children will continue to be a welfare program for the poor or an essential investment in all Americans,” Mr. Barnett said.

Other key findings include the first increase in overall per-pupil spending since the report was initially released. The average amount spent per child, $3,642, however, is still $700 less than the level spent in 2001-02 when adjusted for inflation, the report says. The spending trends, according to the report, suggest “that states are struggling to maintain spending levels in light of enrollment increases and inflation.”

See Also
For background, previous stories, and Web links, read Prekindergarten.

Vol. 27, Issue 29, Page 4

Published in Print: March 26, 2008, as Pre-K Study Shows Good and Bad News
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