The Washington Post

Study finds funding for early-childhood education declined between 2009 and 2010

Funding for early-childhood education declined between 2009 and 2010, even as the Obama administration urged states to increase pre-kindergarten programs for 3- and 4-year-olds, according to a study released Tuesday.

Total state funding for such programs declined by $30 million nationwide as states scrambled to make up for budget shortfalls, according to the the National Institute for Early Education Research, based at Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. Meanwhile, state funding for K-12 education increased slightly.

“Overall, state cuts to pre-K transformed the recession into a depression for many young children,” the report said.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged states to cut other programs before removing funding from early-childhood education, but such advice was rejected across the country.

Duncan said yesterday that the cuts present “real challenges to young people who are desperately fighting to enter the mainstream.”

The study found that 26 percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in pre-K last year — far below the administration’s targets. Forty states have such programs.

Funding increased slightly in Maryland and Virginia, but Virginia slipped in the report’s rankings, which also consider the quality of state pre-K programs. Maryland’s ranking improved. Meanwhile, per-student funding for pre-K in the District, which is among the highest in the country, decreased slightly.

The report’s authors expressed concern that the situation might become more dire as federal stimulus funds expire.

In 2010, per-child state spending for pre-kindergarten programs was almost $700 below its 2001-2002 level.

Those statistics have prompted concern about whether states can achieve the federal government’s twin goals of increasing enrollment and improving the quality of existing programs.

“This is the most important investment we can make,” Duncan said. “The long-term dividends are tremendous.”

Kevin Sieff has been The Post’s bureau chief in Nairobi since 2014. He served previously as the bureau chief in Kabul and had covered the U.S. -Mexico border.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.