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Can States Expand Preschool Access Without Court Order?

Can States Expand Preschool Access Without Court Order?

Are states able to expand preschool access without a court order? That's what Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is hoping.

Though the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled six years ago that the state was responsible for providing a certain level of education to all, it did not specify preschool. As a result, educators, lawmakers and parents are sparring over how the state should set out to expand preschool access to the state's young learners.

Though Malloy announced intentions to expand preschool access in his first term, state efforts to pledge funding to the cause have stalled. Though the state set out to pledge $15 million to expanding preschool last year and $20 million every year after until 2024, only $1.6 million of the $15 million was spent last year, according to The CT Mirror.

"The state still has a long way to go before it reaches universal preschool for the state’s 3- and 4-year olds. State officials reported earlier this year that 10,109 children from low-income families — nearly one-third of poor students — cannot afford to enroll in a high-quality preschool program. To provide universal access to preschool, districts would have to add 814 more preschool classrooms," The Mirror said.

A new trial and subsequent ruling will determine if it's the state's responsibility to provide third and fourth graders with preschool access, something Malloy firmly disagrees with.

"Malloy has said that nowhere in the state Constitution is there a requirement to provide preschool education."

Connecticut's struggle with expanding preschool access defines the issues many states throughout the country are having, as well.

And though a study of Miami preschools earlier this fall found that universal preschool significantly helped learning in Hispanic students, a similar study of Tennessee's state-funded preschool program found that students in the state program under performed peers not in the program by third grade.

These mixed study results have educators and experts reaffirming that high quality preschool, rather than just preschool period, is critical for young learners to experience success.

But in states like Connecticut, where simply providing access is the issue at hand, there's proof that quality universal preschool access in the United States has a long way to go.

Read the full story here

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

10/06/2015

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