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Report: NM Pre-Kindergarten Shrinks Amid Budget Crisis

December 9, 2010

SANTA FE, N.M. - The recession and New Mexico's budget crisis have come down hard on state-funded pre-kindergarten (pre-k) programs in the state. A new report out Wednesday from the Pew Center on the States finds pre-k funding was reduced in New Mexico by more than 18 percent for fiscal year 2011, the second-largest percentage cut in the nation.

Marci Young, director of Pre-K Now, a campaign of the Pew Center on the States, says New Mexico's program started strong about five years ago, but it's now in the minority of states where funding is slipping.

"For these states, several years of weak budgets and stalled progress are beginning to undermine high-quality early education. New Mexico saw a decrease in funding for its pre-K program of $3.6 million."

A wealth of research in recent years has shown that pre-k education is a smart investment for states, Young says, because it pays back big dividends in the long run.

"Pre-k helps reduce grade repetition and special-education placement, increases high school graduation rates, reduces crime and delinquency, and leads to greater employment and higher earnings as adults."

The nonpartisan annual report looked at public funding for pre-k programs in all 50 states. It finds New Mexico is one of just 10 states cutting its pre-k investment. The majority of states protected pre-k this fiscal year, with the overall amount states spent nationwide actually increasing slightly.

More information about the report is available at www.preknow.org.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM