Pre-K Funding and Enrollement Down in NW

By Tom Bacon

One of the best gateways for success later in life is for children to get quality pre-kindergarten education at age four - and even younger. But states are scrimping on the amount of money they spend on pre-K education, and fewer kids are being enrolled.

Both Washington and Oregon are in the upper ranks of states offering pre-K programs, measured by dollars spent, quality standards and the number of three and four year olds enrolled.

By sharp contrast, Idaho has no pre-K program at all. And only about 13% of Idaho youngsters get help from Headstart and other programs, compared with more than 20% of Washington and Oregon children.

Of the three states, Oregon spends by far the most for each child - about 85-hundred dollars. But that amount has dropped sharply from nearly $11,000 per child spent in 2002, pre-recession. Washington last year spent $6,600 per child enrolled, the same amount as the state allocated in 2002. Idaho spent nothing.

Of 10 quality benchmarks identified by education researchers, Washington met 9/10 and Oregon 8/10.

Across the nation, state pre-K funding per child has dropped more than 11-hundred dollars in the last decade. The data prompted U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to say "Our youngest learners will not be college and career-ready if we slash preschool dollars."

The information came from a study by a research arm of Rutgers University.
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