NIEER co-director Steve Barnett released findings of The State of Preschool 2009 at a press conference today at the AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. Barnett said this year's yearbook data show that, nationally speaking, the recession is affecting states' ability to continue the trend toward expanding pre-K that has predominated in recent years. "The immediate future of pre-K seems much more perilous than past trends might suggest," he said, pointing out that some states have cut pre-K enrollment to levels not seen in years and that so far, 11 states are considering pre-K cuts for 2011.
Barnett outlined the difficult choices middle-income families, who have the least access to public pre-K, are facing in providing for their young children. He reminded President Obama of his campaign promise to guarantee access to quality, affordable early childhood education for every child in America and called on him to create an Early Education Fund designed to help states provide more services. Investing $1 billion in the fund would, by Barnett's calculations, enable states providing matching funds to serve an additional 500,000 children.
Joining him at the podium were Marci Young, a project director for the Pew Center on the States, and Julia B. Isaacs, The Child and Family Policy Fellow at the Brookings Institution. The new edition of the yearbook, the news release, and parent videos are available on the NIEER web site. Barnett wonders about the future of state pre-K in our Preschool Matters…Today! blog post.
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