You May Be Surprised By The States That Support Pre-K

Interactive: Obama’s universal pre-K plan is meeting resistance in Congress—but in the states, both parties support early childhood programs.

WOODBOURNE, NY - SEPTEMBER 20: Children eat breakfast at the federally-funded Head Start Program school on September 20, 2012 in Woodbourne, New York. The school provides early education, nutrition and health services to 311 children from birth through age 5 from low-income families in Sullivan County, one of the poorest counties in the state of New York. The children receive 2/3 of their daily nutritional needs through meals, which include breakfast, lunch and snack, that are prepared at the school and served family-style in classrooms. The county Head Start program was expanded with a $1 million grant from President Obama's 2009 stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Head Start, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the longest-running early education program for children of low-income families in the United States. 
Getty Images
Amy Sullivan and Brian Mcgill
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Amy Sullivan Brian McGill
April 17, 2014, 2:06 p.m.

When Pres­id­ent Obama called for uni­ver­sal ac­cess to pre-K pro­grams in his 2014 State of the Uni­on ad­dress, view­ers could have been for­giv­en for think­ing this was just an­oth­er big gov­ern­ment ini­ti­at­ive that only a lib­er­al could love. But in fact, a look at in­vest­ments in pre-K edu­ca­tion at the state level shows that fund­ing is up around the coun­try—and that some crim­son red states like South Car­o­lina and Mis­sis­sippi are lead­ing the way. 

The Edu­ca­tion Com­mis­sion of the States ana­lyzed state data on pre-K fund­ing for the 2013-2014 fisc­al year and found that of the 40 states that provide state-sup­por­ted pro­grams for 4-year-olds, 30 of them (plus the Dis­trict of Columbia) in­creased their fund­ing for these pro­grams. And con­trary to what you might ex­pect, those in­creases don’t fol­low a par­tic­u­lar par­tis­an pat­tern. (Scroll over the in­ter­act­ive map to see an in­di­vidu­al state’s pre-K fund­ing level and how much it has in­creased or de­creased.)

That’s in part be­cause some of the most con­ser­vat­ive states in the coun­try have had the hard­est time budging stub­bornly low edu­ca­tion scores. It’s not dis­sim­il­ar from the situ­ation a few years ago in which South Car­o­lina de­cided to deal with a high teen preg­nancy rate by giv­ing com­pre­hens­ive sex edu­ca­tion—not ab­stin­ence-only—a try. 

And there’s an­oth­er prac­tic­al reas­on for con­ser­vat­ives to em­brace pre-K edu­ca­tion. Ad­voc­ates of early child­hood in­ter­ven­tions have al­ways made the mor­al ar­gu­ment that it’s the just thing to do in or­der to al­low chil­dren of all back­grounds to enter school on a level play­ing field. But now they also lay out the cost-be­ne­fit ana­lys­is: Spend money now or spend a lot more money later. Giv­en that poor chil­dren with lower levels of edu­ca­tion­al at­tain­ment are most likely to end up in the crim­in­al justice sys­tem or re­quir­ing so­cial ser­vice as­sist­ance, re­search­ers have de­term­ined that every dol­lar in­ves­ted in early child­hood edu­ca­tion saves a min­im­um of $7 later on.

A few in­ter­est­ing de­vel­op­ments in the states:

  • Mas­sachu­setts doubled its in­vest­ment in pre-K for the 2013-2014 fisc­al year in or­der to re­duce the waitl­ist of chil­dren wait­ing for spots in pro­grams, a num­ber that had reached nearly 15,000.
  • South Car­o­lina in­creased its fund­ing by al­most 80 per­cent in or­der to ex­tend early child­hood pro­grams to 17 ad­di­tion­al school dis­tricts in the state.
  • Min­nesota is now of­fer­ing schol­ar­ships for pre-school age chil­dren whose fam­ily’s in­come is low enough to qual­i­fy—those schol­ar­ships for private pro­grams are in ad­di­tion to the Head Start op­tions already avail­able.
  • New Mex­ico’s Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Susana Mar­tinez signed a bill last spring that will use money from the state’s to­bacco set­tle­ment to fund early child­care and edu­ca­tion pro­grams.

It’s im­port­ant to note that the pro­grams in­cluded in this data are just those that serve 4-year-olds. Many edu­ca­tion re­search­ers be­lieve that in­ter­ven­tions should start even earli­er, with school-based pro­grams be­gin­ning at age 3, and vol­un­tary home-based in­ter­ven­tions as early as in­fancy. Even so, the trend lines point to­ward more fed­er­al and state sup­port of early edu­ca­tion—wheth­er you live in a state that’s blue, red, purple, or polka-dot­ted. 

What We're Following See More »
BIGGEST SHAKEUP OF ALL?
Bannon Is Out at the White House
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

First, it was Sean Spicer. Then Reince Priebus. Now, presidential adviser Steve Bannon, perhaps the administration's biggest lightning rod for criticism, is out. “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.” That's not to say the parting of ways isn't controversial. Bannon says he submitted his resignation on Aug. 7, but earlier today, "the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon."

Source:
INITIATIVE TARGETED GUN RETAILERS, OTHERS
Trump Ends Obama’s “Operation Choke Point”
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Trump administration has ended Operation Choke Point, the anti-fraud initiative started under the Obama administration that many Republicans argued was used to target gun retailers and other businesses that Democrats found objectionable. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told GOP representatives in a Wednesday letter that the long-running program had ended, bringing a conclusion to a chapter in the Obama years that long provoked and angered conservatives who saw Choke Point as an extra-legal crackdown on politically disfavored groups."

Source:
LIBERALS RAISE CONFLICT OF ISSUE QUESTIONS
Gorsuch to Deliver Speech at Trump Hotel
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Liberal groups are raising questions about a speaking appearance Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch plans to make next month at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Gorsuch is scheduled to headline a luncheon celebrating the 50th anniversary of conservative group The Fund for American Studies on September 28, days before the next SCOTUS term begins October 2. Steve Slattery, a spokesman for The Fund for American Studies, said Gorsuch had nothing to do with venue choice, which was made long before the group asked Gorsuch to speak."

Source:
CYBER COMMAND ELEVATED AT DOD
Administration Faces Exodus of Top Cybersecurity Officials
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Trump administration has lost a handful of individuals serving in top cybersecurity roles across the federal government in recent weeks, even as it has struggled to fill high-ranking IT positions. The developments present hurdles for the new administration and speak to the longstanding challenge the federal government faces in competing with the private sector for top tech talent." Among those resigning is Richard Staropoli, "a former U.S. Secret Service agent who served as chief information officer (CIO) of the Department of Homeland Security for just three months," and Dave DeVries, the CIO at OPM. Separately, the White House announced today that President Trump has directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations.

Source:
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login