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State of Kentucky Preschool: Funding Falls Behind National Trends

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A new non-profit report examining the state of preschool in the US found that funding and enrollment have increased nationwide, but in Kentucky it’s a different story.

The National Institute for Early Education Research reports nationwide states have upped funding the past two years, and in 2013-2014 that increase totaled $120 million. But Kentucky spent 5 percent less per child in that same time period.

In 2002 the commonwealth was the 7th highest funded public pre-k program, and in the latest report it’s dropped to 17th. Enrollment is also down in Kentucky pre-k programs.

Meanwhile, Republican gubernatorial candidates Matt Bevin and James Comer both said at a Kentucky Tonight forum this week that they wouldn’t expand public preschool programs like Head Start if elected.

“...The government itself in order to justify it and those looking at it from the outside trying to justify why it doesn’t work, everyone has come to the same conclusion, that third grade and beyond there is no measurable difference between a child who came through Head Start and a child that did not,” Bevin said. “First and second grade there is a difference. Third grade and beyond there is no difference whatsoever.”

Candidate Will T. Scott says he would support finding more funding and Hal Heiner didn’t say if he would or would not expand public pre-k funding. The primary election is next Tuesday.

Whitney grew up listening to Car Talk to and from her family’s beach vacation each year, but it wasn’t until a friend introduced her to This American Life that radio really grabbed her attention. She is a recent graduate from Union University in Jackson, Tenn., where she studied journalism. When she’s not at WKMS, you can find her working on her backyard compost pile and garden, getting lost on her bicycle or crocheting one massive blanket.
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