Pre-K program funds lag other states, study finds

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ATLANTA --- Georgia, long considered a national leader in providing prekindergarten education, is slipping behind other states after student enrollment and inflation outpaced state spending for the past decade, a study has found.

The study released Tuesday by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University shows Georgia has plummeted to 20th place in state money spent per child at $4,206 per student, compared with the leader, New Jersey, with $11,578 per child.

The state ranked ninth in 2003, a number determined when per-student funding is adjusted for inflation.

Georgia now ranks fourth in the percentage of 4-year-olds in its lottery-funded pre-K program after hovering among the top three states since the annual study started coming out in 2003.

"You can have great standards on paper, but if you cut spending per child 10 years running, that has to hurt quality," said Steve Barnett, a co-director of the institute. "It's really risking its national leadership by this cut after cut after cut."

The numbers in the study -- based on 2009-10 data -- do not reflect reductions made to the pre-K program for this fall, which include cutting 20 days from the school year to help reduce spending on programs funded by the Georgia Lottery.

The move allowed the state to cut $54 million from the cash-strapped program while adding 2,000 slots. Deal has said the cuts were necessary to help keep lottery-funded programs such as pre-K and the HOPE scholarship from going broke.

"The governor has taken courageous steps to make sure we have this program going forward," said Deal's spokesman, Brian Robinson.

Georgia's program, which opened in 1993, is funded solely with lottery money. It remains the only state whose policy is to offer free full-day prekindergarten for any 4-year-old, though that access is limited now to a set number of slots because of financial constraints.

This year, Georgia serves 83,000 students, or a little more than half of the state's 4-year-olds. At least 10,000 children are on a waiting list for the program.

Advocates say they want to see a more dependable stream of revenue for the program.

"We have to make pre-K a standard part of educating children. To do that, we can't leave it to chance by strictly funding it with the lottery," said Pat Willis, executive director of Voices for Georgia's Children.

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Sweet son
10037
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Sweet son 04/26/11 - 11:55 am
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0
State funded childcare should

State funded childcare should be shut down and the monies used for Hope Scholarships. When you prove your commitment to academic excellience then you should be rewarded with help for college! Can any statistics be provided to show that Pre K improved graduation rates or continuing education to college or other institutions for higher learning?!!

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 04/26/11 - 01:58 pm
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Sweet son, you ask questions

Sweet son, you ask questions that GA educrats don't want us plain folks to muse about and surely not to pose in a public forum.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 04/26/11 - 02:20 pm
0
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"A new national study shows
Unpublished

"A new national study shows Georgia, a leader in prekindergarten, is slipping behind other states after nine straight years of lagging funding."

Is there a correlation between the amount of money spent and the success of a program?

Sweet son
10037
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Sweet son 04/26/11 - 03:19 pm
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Great comment Craig!

Great comment Craig!

Chillen
17
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Chillen 04/26/11 - 03:58 pm
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4 year olds should be at home

4 year olds should be at home with Mom or in a daycare. Not Public Pre-K. This is nothing but daycare.

What next? Public school for infants? They can listen to baby beethoven and the taxpayers can provide them black and white mobiles for their development. Heck, lets just bring back orphanages and selfish parents can turn their kids over the the govt until they are 6.

Yes folks, the govamint will provide you (way less than mediocre) cradle to grave care. IF you continue to let them.

Or, you can rise up and tell them to stop. Tell them you want more independence to think for yourself, to provide for yourself, to succeed or fail based on your own decisions & effort.

Vote out all the losers! Before it's too late commrade.

corgimom
31080
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corgimom 04/26/11 - 05:18 pm
0
0
I don't know about

I don't know about statistics, but from my personal experience, if a child doesn't have preschool, kindergarten is a struggle for them.

Because of testing, academics has been pushed down. What used to be 1st grade is now kindergarten, what was kindergarten is now pre-school. But I guess somehow he thinks parents can replicate a school experience- when they can't.

We can tell on the first day who's been to preschool and who hasn't. No matter what a parent teaches, they can't duplicate a school experience- learning group dynamics, a strict schedule, an adult leader who is teaching a group, and caring for a group. And there isn't time to let a child adjust- we start in on the very first day with testing and academics.

Chillen can rant about "selfish" parents all he wants. If it was selfish of me to want to support my child on my own, without going on welfare, if it was selfish of me to want my child adequately fed and housed and given proper medical care, then so be it- I was selfish. I worked and my child was in child care.

I think it's great that Chillen- who, as he tells it, built his business without any government help, in any way- except for public water, power, roads, educated workers, etc. *snort*- advocates independence- except when it suits his purposes.

You can pay for pre-K- which is cheap- or you can pay for remedial help, extra years in school, welfare, and prisons. The rest of us live in 2011, he's still living in the 1950's.

And while Chillen is busy with his business, he doesn't have a clue as to how much kindergarten has changed. And he really doesn't care, it's all about the way he thinks it should be, not the way it really is.

Chillen, who is Republican and proud of it, also doesn't have a clue what mainstreaming did in schools and what George W. Bush did to American education with NCLB. That wasn't around when we were children, or when his children were small, but hey, why would that make a difference to anyone, anywhere?

Sweet son
10037
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Sweet son 04/26/11 - 05:40 pm
0
0
corgi, WRONG! Adjust the

corgi, WRONG! Adjust the cirriculum so that when children enter school they are on the same playing field. K is not required!

AutumnLeaves
6996
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AutumnLeaves 04/26/11 - 08:58 pm
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The only real benefit I saw

The only real benefit I saw to pre-K was children caught most of the childhood illnesses there instead of kindergarten. I don't think the state should fund it. I also think that the HOPE scholarship should not pay for remedial college classes, it should be reserved for A-B high school scholars and if there isn't money enough for that, narrow it down to A high school scholars.

mag5
21
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mag5 04/27/11 - 07:16 am
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By Alan Essig No one can

By Alan Essig

No one can argue that Georgia’s prized lottery-funded HOPE program is in desperate need of reform—the structural deficit demands it. Unfortunately, current debate regarding reforming HOPE tends to ask the wrong questions. The conversation has been preoccupied with preserving the HOPE Scholarship as much as possible in its existing form. But is this the best educational investment for Georgia?

Instead of focusing on how to maintain HOPE, we should ask ourselves how to get the greatest educational bang for our lottery dollars. Georgia will be better served by prioritizing its limited lottery dollar investments in pre-K and the technical college system, first, and HOPE scholarships, second.

Everyone gains from a better educated workforce, and that starts in pre-K. Georgia must continue to invest in the pre-K program to ensure that our youth enter kindergarten with the critical cognitive and social skills necessary for a lifetime of learning and development. What end goals are we really attempting to achieve by cutting the number of pre-K hours by one-third? Research shows that for every $1 invested in early education, $7 in benefits are realized. Thus, prioritizing quality pre-K programs – particularly for at-risk youth – serves as a valuable asset on the front-end of our K-20 education pipeline. At a time when we seek opportunities to reduce costs in K-12 education and simultaneously increase student achievement, investing in pre-K presents an ideal opportunity to do so early in the learning process.

Likewise, investing in technical colleges allows Georgians to stay agile in a rapidly, ever-changing world. The state has been a national model for providing broad access to technical colleges through HOPE grants, which has allowed Georgia to create one of the top technical college systems in the nation. Broad access to technical colleges allows low-skilled workers an opportunity to remain viable job candidates and to provide businesses with a readily-available, trained workforce—a critical asset for companies looking to expand or relocate. It is indeed likely that restricting access to technical colleges will result in undesirable outcomes for economic growth and economic security in Georgia.

In addition to investing in pre-K programs and HOPE grants, real reform must take a pragmatic approach to the HOPE scholarship. To obtain the biggest educational bang for the lottery dollar, the Hope Scholarship must be focused on those who can least afford a college education. Georgia gains little when lottery dollars subsidize the tuition of students whose families can afford to pay for their college education. Placing an income cap of $100,000 on Hope Scholarship eligibility would allow lottery funds to go to those who will most benefit by the investment, and to help ensure that funds are available for investment in pre-K and technical schools.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. In order to get something one likes, one must be willing to give up something in return. Reforming how we spend lottery funds does not escape this core economic principle.

The late American author Mark Twain stated, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” As we implement fundamental reform to the HOPE program, we must bear in mind the impact of those decisions on the future opportunities for our youth and our economy. Twenty years from now, we don’t want to be left asking ourselves “what were we thinking”.

–From Maureen Downey and the AJC Get Schooled blog

mag5
21
Points
mag5 04/27/11 - 07:31 am
0
0
Georgia pre-k cutting

Georgia pre-k cutting retention rates.By Nancy Badertscher

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A new study shows Georgia's lottery-funded pre-kindergarten program is paying off, with fewer students being held back a grade, dropping out of school and landing in special education classes.

The study, released Tuesday by the nonprofit Southern Education Foundation Inc., puts a dollar value on the most noticeable of the trends -- 10,000 fewer students on average are having to repeat the same grade each year.

The report estimates the net savings at $35.6 million in 2010 and an additional net savings of $212.9 million over the next six calendar years. It also links pre-k to a dip in dropout rates for middle and high schools over the past five years and to 20,000 fewer students being placed in special education classes in the past three years.

Steve Suitts, the vice president of the foundation, an advocacy group for education for more than 150 years, called the report "good news for Georgia."

"There is no other program in Georgia that can match it -- no other program that is as effective and efficient for taxpayers," he said.

Gov. Nathan Deal last week proposed cutting pre-k from a full-time to a part-time program by dropping its hours from 6.5 a day to four a day, a move he said was necessary to cut costs in the face of flat to declining lottery revenue. The move would save $54 million.

Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal, said the governor “knows well how important pre-k is for preparing our state’s 4-year-olds for education excellence."

“The Deal plan saves pre-k for the next generation while still maintaining a generous benefit that is the envy of surrounding states,” he said.

Pat Willis, executive director of the advocacy group Voices for Georgia's Children, said the study's positive findings "give us strong encouragement to extend pre-k to even greater numbers of disadvantaged children."

"If Georgia would just invest in annual analysis of the actual participants in pre-k and HOPE, we could guide our programs to even greater benefit for students and all of Georgia," she said.

The study's authors said Deal's plan will have Georgia bucking the national trend of pre-k programs going to longer, not shorter, hours. But they stopped short of calling on the governor to reconsider.

"It's a unique program that's saving millions of dollars," Suitts said. "That's not something you tinker with lightly."

The study, which looked at pre-k data from 2000 to 2010, found:

That as the number of students who have been to pre-k has expanded and become a larger portion of the entire K-12 enrollment, Georgia's grade retention rate has dropped (from 4.1 percent in 2002 to 3.7 percent in 2010, equating to 10,000 fewer students repeating a grade);
That the rate at which middle and high school students have left public schools has declined from 3.5 percent to 2.6 percent in the past five years, equating to about 20,134 students;
That from 2007 through 2010, the number of students placed in special education has dropped by almost 20,000, resulting in a potential savings of up to $35 million in that time period.
Georgia's pre-k program is one of the largest in the country, with 84,000 students and a waiting list of about 10,000. One of the governor's proposals is to reinvest part of the savings from moving to a part-time program into adding space for 5,000 more students.

AutumnLeaves
6996
Points
AutumnLeaves 04/27/11 - 04:05 pm
0
0
1/2 my children went to

1/2 my children went to pre-K, half didn't. They all graduated high school with honors. I really didn't see any difference in how prepared they were for Kindergarten, but then, I prepared them for Pre-K and Kindergarten myself, and they did just fine. What I didn't teach them, they taught each other. I think they would have been fine without Pre-K OR Kindergarten going straight into first grade. I think children should stay home as long as they can, if their parents are willing and able to prepare them for the early grades. I realize some parents aren't. It's not a perfect world.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 04/27/11 - 04:45 pm
0
0
mag5, The Southern Education

mag5,

The Southern Education Foundation study(March 2011) you cited was based upon extrapolations from kindergarten- and first-grade-level achievement data none of which was more recent than 2007.

To the best of my research and knowledge, there has been no comprehensive study comparing the high school and college graduation-rates of GA Pre-K grads and similar kids who didn't attend the program. Moreover, I'm also unaware of any study considering the efficacy of individual Pre-K programs funded by our state.

I also wonder to what specific "research" Mr. Essig was referring?

Our Pre-K program. like our state's K-12 program, should be subjected to strenuous. external evaluations of its efficacy. Too bad for our kids and our future that neither is.

prncess803
0
Points
prncess803 04/27/11 - 08:03 pm
0
0
So what if New Jersey piddles

So what if New Jersey piddles away over $10,000 on 'educating' a 4 year old. Gee, $10,000 for a 4 yr old or $10,000 for job training for a high school grad? The program is FREE DAY CARE for many families. NOT EDUCATING preschoolers. Face the facts. Head Start for over 30 years ran a half day 3 1/2 hour class/ four day a week program successfully, serving AM and PM classes. Teachers work 40 hours. Here in GA, less kids are served going 6 hours a day. CRAZY. and the test results show very little improvement in scores. Better yet, even those with improved test scores still would have graduated. So ........ what have we accomplished with the millions out the door ?????

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