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New Poll Shows Strong Bi-Partisan Support for Pre-Kindergarten Programs

February 4, 2008

Pierre, SD – Quality counts for South Dakotans when it comes to pre-kindergarten education. A new Zogby poll released today by South Dakota Voices for Children shows that 73 percent of likely voters in the state support a plan in the legislature to create standards and accountability for pre-K programs.

The group's Executive Director Susan Randall says standards are crucial, and numerous studies show that quality early learning programs, especially for children from at-risk families, pay off.

"Getting a job, securing post-high school education, owning a home. One study found the return on the investment was $7 for every $1 invested in pre-kindergarten education for children from at-risk circumstances."

Randall says while two-thirds of states already have enacted standards for their pre-K programs, South Dakota is not among them. She explains the standards would not apply to private providers unless they opt to partner with school districts to offer pre-K services to eligible children.

"We know high quality standards are essential to ensure the program achieves the investment returns we're looking for. A high quality program is essential to having a strong foundation for learning."

Randall adds pre-K education plays an important part in the goals Governor Rounds has set for his 2010 education initiative. Senate Bill 26, which has passed in the Senate and now moves to the House Education Committee, gives the State Board of Education the authority to adopt quality standards. It also states that pre-kindergarten attendance would remain a matter of parental choice.

David Law/John Robinson, Public News Service - SD