Pre-K Enrollment Down; Northwest Especially Low

By Chris Lehman

The number of preschoolers enrolled in state-funded early childhood education programs is dropping nationally. A national study released Tuesday shows that Northwest states are holding steady in terms of overall enrollment but continue to rank near the bottom in some key areas.

The study from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University has good things to say about the quality of state-funded pre-kindergarten education in Oregon and Washington. But it shows the number of children receiving this publicly funded opportunity is on the low end. Oregon and Washington are well below the national average when it comes to the percentage of four-year-olds enrolled in a state-funded preschool program. Donna Schnitker is President of the Oregon Head Start Association. She says in some parts of the state…

Donna Schnitker: "There are waiting lists for kids that are eligible for Head Start but there is just not the funding."

The situation is a little different in Oregon and Washington's neighbor to the east. The study points out that Idaho is one of ten states nationally that doesn't offer state funding for pre-kindergarten programs at all.

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