WASHINGTON, D.C., (WSFA) - Alabama lawmakers recently approved the fourth largest percentage increase in the nation this year for pre-kindergarten funding according to a state by state analysis from Pre-K Now, a campaign of the Pew Center on the States. Alabama will serve an additional 450 children in the coming year, bringing enrollment to nearly 4,000 children, an increase of 14 percent.
"During a time of budget shortfalls and tough choices, Alabama lawmakers made a wise choice to invest in the state's high-quality pre-k program," said Marci Young, project director of Pre-K Now. "Children, families and taxpayers will reap the rewards of this decision by getting a large return on investment for years to come and giving Alabama an economic edge in the future."
The non-partisan annual report, "Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K Fiscal Year 2010," evaluates state budgets to determine which legislatures count voluntary, high-quality pre-k among their top education reform strategies. Using this information, Americans can determine whether their elected leaders are committing the resources necessary to develop the successful students and workers central to economic recovery.
Even as they confronted large budget gaps of up to 35 percent, twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia chose to increase or hold steady funding for pre-k programs in the current fiscal year. "Votes Count" also sheds light on one particular funding strategy for early education - the school funding formula. States that include pre-k in their school funding formula allocate per-child funding for 4 year olds based on enrollment, just as they do for K-12 schools.
The report highlights how the Alabama legislature, with strong bipartisan support, approved an increase in First Class - the state's small but high-quality pre-k program. First Class has grown steadily since FY07 and is one of only two in the nation to meet all 10 National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) quality benchmarks.
For more details about "Votes Count," and The Pew Center on the States please visit www.pewcenteronthestates.org/preknow.