Volume 11, Issue 9

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hot Topics

Today NIEER released data from The State of Preschool 2011: State Preschool Yearbook at a press conference at Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C. The report’s findings include that for the second year in a row, state pre-K funding dropped, with detrimental effects on quality standards. Enrollment increased slightly, but varied greatly from state to state with two states--Florida and Oklahoma--serving more than 70 percent of their 4-year-olds while 11 states continue to offer no state-funded pre-K at all. Of the disparities seen in state pre-K, NIEER Director Steve Barnett noted, “quality varies just as much as quantity” with five states meeting all 10 of NIEER’s quality standards benchmarks at the same time that three states met only three or fewer.

Also speaking at today’s event was U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who said, "High-quality early learning is what we want for our own children so it must be what we want for everyone's children,” contrasting that with the “inconsistent and piecemeal” efforts of states over the last decade. Referencing the federal government’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge initiative, Secretary Duncan said, “Continued support is absolutely critical.”

In addition, in a written statement prior to the release, Dr. Barnett recognized the effects of the recession at work in states cutting pre-K spending but commented, “As economic conditions improve, states need to provide more adequate funding, step up quality, and make pre-K available to all children.” Further recommendations can be found in the report’s executive summary.

To receive timely updates on The State of Preschool 2011 and other issues concerning preschool education, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Join in the conversation on either medium, using the hashtag #preK2011 on Twitter.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

NIEER Director Steven Barnett writes about the state of preschool in the U.S., using the 2011 Yearbook data and personal anecdotes he’s received from families, in this blog post analyzing 10 years worth of state-fund pre-K data.

New on nieer.org

The 2011 State Preschool Yearbook is the newest edition of NIEER’s annual report profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States. This latest Yearbook presents data on state-funded prekindergarten during the 2010-2011 school year as well as documenting a decade of progress since the first Yearbook collected data on the 2001-2002 school year. Tracking these trends is essential to ensuring states prioritize early childhood education, which influences how successfully America's future generations will compete in a global knowledge economy. The full report is available at nieer.org/yearbook, where you can also find state-specific data, interactive data, and a video with highlights from the report as well as words of support from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and pop singer and early childhood education advocate Shakira.