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Report: KY Pre-K Funding Gets Passing Grade

April 16, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Pre-K programs in Kentucky could use more money from the state, but in terms of how that money is being spent, a new study says, Kentucky is among the few states headed in the right direction.

Kentucky ranks only 29th among states in terms of state funding for pre-K, but the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University says with that money, it's giving more children access to those programs than most states do.

NIEER Director Steven Barnett points out that younger kids get access there.

"Kentucky is in the upper tier when it comes to access; 33 percent of four-year-olds are involved in state Pre-K, 7 percent of three-year-olds. That doesn't sound a lot, but most states don't serve any three-year-olds at all."

Barnett says that in Kentucky, as in most other states, pre-K programs present a financial hardship to a lot of families.

"Lower-income families, even middle-income families, who don't receive any public help can't afford it any more than they could afford high-quality higher education."

Barnett says in assembling the report, his group looks at a number of areas not limited to a child's early encounter with the Three Rs.

"Pre-school is also where they learn to take turns, to get along with each other, to develop lifelong habits of thinking before they act, of making plans. It's also important for learning foundations."

During the 2010-2011 school year, Kentucky completed the two-year pilot phase of a statewide pre-school monitoring process in which all districts will be reviewed every five years.

Governor Steve Beshear had proposed expanding pre-school services in the state with a $15 million appropriation, but lawmakers cut it in follow-up budget talks.

See the complete study at www.nieer.org.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - KY