A new non-profit report examining the state of preschool in the U.S. found that funding and enrollment have increased nationwide–but not in Kentucky.
The National Institute for Early Education Research reports that states have increased 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 state was the seventh-highest funded public pre-K program; 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 said he would support finding more funding; Hal Heiner didn’t say if he would expand public pre-K funding. The primary election is Tuesday.