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CA Ranks 23rd in the Nation for Access to Pre-K

April 10, 2012

LOS ANGELES - 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.

California provides preschool to less than one in five four-year-olds, which is some improvement from a decade ago, when it was less than one in ten. However, Dr. Barnett says California's quality standards are low.

"A preschool that doesn't have high quality standards is just glorified babysitting and a waste of the taxpayer's money."

Barnett says California 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 "State of Pre-School 2011" report finds that California now ranks 18th in the nation for early education spending.

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

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA