Now that election season is over and governors have been sworn into office, they’re making good on their promises to expand “preschool and other early-childhood programs,” according to a recent article in Education Week.
Across the country, governors are building on the early education legacy left by the Obama administration, including the federally funded Preschool Expansion Grants. This state-level leadership is crucial, particularly now when the Trump administration is focusing less on early learning.
“I think right now it’s unrealistic to expect a big push for pre-K from the federal government,” Aaron Loewenberg, an education policy analyst with the think tank New America, told Education Week.
Fortunately, that’s not having an impact on governors.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsome has “floated the largest proposal from a governor thus far, aiming to spend $1.8 billion on an array of programs including expansion of full-day kindergarten, free preschool for children from low-income families with the aim of making the program universal, and increased subsidies for child care, among other initiatives,” Education Week adds.
The state may, for example, “give between $25 and $35 million to child care programs statewide, in order held make daycare more affordable for families with children ages 0-3,” CBS Sacramento reports.
In Colorado, “newly elected Gov. Jared Polis, also a Democrat, used his State of the State address to advocate for more than $200 million that would allow all of Colorado’s school districts to offer full-day kindergarten,” Education Week says.
“Our state’s strong economic growth means we have the power to do all of this right now without taking resources away from other areas of the budget,” Polis said in the speech. “As Uncle Ben once said to Spider-Man, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ I know that together we can fulfill this responsibility, which many of you have been working on for years: free kindergarten now.”
In Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo “is advocating for a phased expansion of universal pre-K in her state.”
The Providence Journal reports that the governor’s plan “calls for spending $10 million in the 2019-2020 school year, plus an estimated $10 million in each of the following three years. Her goal is to reach 7,000 4-year-olds or 70 percent of the eligible children in Rhode Island, which is considered the threshold for universal pre-K.”
In Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama “plans to continue her embrace of early-childhood programming as part of the ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’ initiative started in 2017,” Education week reports, adding that Ivey recently told a meeting of Alabama early education professionals at a conference:
“Clearly, our students are making significant gains through our high-quality pre-K program, however, now our challenge is to continue building on that success.”
And while Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker isn’t mentioned in the Education Week article, it’s worth noting that he has also called for increased investments in early education.
This state-level groundswell of support is exciting to see. It promises to create lots of high-quality opportunities for the country’s youngest kids to learn and thrive.