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Gov. Paterson Scolded for Pre-Kindergarten Funding Neglect

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 By Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY, Contact
May 6, 2009

Albany, NY - A new study says in effect that Governor David Paterson should be sent to stand in the corner for failing to increase funding levels for pre-Kindergarten programs in his state. Paterson is singled out among five state governors who are categorized as not committed sufficiently to funding early learning programs, according to the study released by the non-partisan Pew Center on the States.

Jenn O'Conner of the statewide early care and learning coalition known as Winning Beginning New York says, granted, Paterson inherited a challenge with the unexpected departure of his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, but he could have done, and can do, more.

"The bottom line is that children shouldn't have to wait for bureaucratic and political knots to get untangled before they can get the quality early education opportunities that they need."

The Pew study found 27 governors either increasing or maintaining pre-K funding levels, three proposing to start pre-K programs and five, including Gov. Paterson, proposing cuts.

"Pre-K has been show to increase graduation rates, to decrease juvenile crime rates and arrest rates, to have really positive health outcomes for children who have ben in Pre-K as they become adults.”

O'Conner says pre-K investment brings proven returns for education and taxpayers - and can be considered an economic stimulus issue.

"Pre-K classrooms employ teachers and assistants. And pre-K programs allow parents to go to work. You know, we're talking about people who are having a hard time keeping jobs today."

The Winning Beginning coalition is pushing for a legislative hearing on the issue of pre-K funding in the near future.

Opponents of increased funding cite different budget priorities.

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