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NY Slips to 9th in the Nation for Access to Pre-K

April 10, 2012

NEW YORK - It's not the best mix for quality, according to a new report: More children making their way into state-funded pre-kindergarten classrooms, but a lot less money to support early education.

Dr. Steve Barnett directs the non-partisan National Institute for Early Education Research, and his group says national per-child spending dropped by $145 last year and over the past decade by $700 per child. He says New York finds itself in a similar negative trend.

"New York ranks 9th in access for four-year-olds to pre-K, but that's down from 5th ten years ago. A number of other states that weren't even considering providing universal pre-K have passed New York by in the last decade."

The State of Pre-School 2011 report finds that New York now ranks 29th in the nation for early education spending.

Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a stand-still budget for early education this year, including some reform measures. Kate Breslin, President and CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy and co-convener of Winning Beginnings New York, says both the governor and New York lawmakers missed a major opportunity by rejecting the Board of Regents' proposal to direct $53 million in additional funding to pre-K statewide.

"If New York is serious about school success, and about taking the steps we need to take to improve graduation rates, the positive impact of pre-K is greatest for Hispanic children, black children, English-language learners, and children from low-income families."

Dr. Steve Barnett says New York is far from alone as many states try to do more with less.

"Enrollment is up over the last decade in state-funded pre-k, but spending per child declined, over $700 less than it was a decade ago, and that's undermined the ability to provide a quality education."

The study will be posted Tuesday morning on the web at www.nieer.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY