Arkansas Advocates assesses the state of early childhood education in 2015 | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Arkansas Advocates assesses the state of early childhood education in 2015

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 11:48 AM

click to enlarge STILL NOT TOP PRIORITY: An Arkansas preschool teacher in an Early Head Start reads to children in this 2013 file photo. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • BRIAN CHILSON
  • STILL NOT TOP PRIORITY: An Arkansas preschool teacher in an Early Head Start reads to children in this 2013 file photo.

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
has a new brief out today on the pre-K situation in Arkansas, and how it's changed in the past year.

The report is optimistic, noting that a $60 million federal grant (to be disbursed over a four year period) has made possible an expansion of 1,371 new preschool slots statewide, along with a significant increase in per-child funding for another 1,506 children. The federal money is intended to increase the quality of pre-K programs in specific, high-need areas, including the Little Rock School District. 

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation also funded two $1 million initiatives intended to boost quality in Arkansas kindergarten and pre-K classrooms, and the state legislature added a one-time $3 million to the Arkansas Better Chance program for the next two fiscal years. ABC provides free or reduced-cost pre-K to low-income families.

The one-time money from the state budget, the report notes, "is the first increase in funding to the ABC program since FY 2008 when $40 million of ongoing revenue was added to increase quality and enrollment. While this $3 million is a first step for enriching the quality of our program, it is just that, a first step. The program needs a significant amount of ongoing revenue to ensure that it maintains the high quality that kids need in order to start their schooling off on the right foot."

The Republican legislature is more interested in tax cuts which accrue largely to the wealthy than in significantly increasing the pre-K budget. The extra $3 million the General Assembly appropriated earlier this year is welcome, of course, but it shouldn't be oversold. It falls far short of what's needed.

Arkansas's pre-K budget effectively shrank, in real terms, since 2008 — a span of time in which Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe set the state's budget priorities along with Republican legislative leaders, it should be noted. As William El-Amin wrote in a Times column in April, $3 million is only a fraction of what would have been required to keep pace with inflation over the past seven years.

The money kicked in by the state looks even more paltry when compared to the federal grant mentioned in the Advocates report. A sum of $60 million over four years works out to about $15 million per year, which is ten times higher than the amount Arkansas could cough up on an annual basis ($3 million over two years is $1.5 million per year).

So is this progress? When compared to 2014, sure. But not when compared to 2008. That would require a real investment of state revenue, something the legislature is so far averse to doing.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Benjamin Hardy

  • Pharmacy reimbursement fight prompts special session call

    Since Jan. 1, Brandon Cooper, a pharmacist at Soo’s Drug Store in Jonesboro, has turned away a number of patients seeking to fill routine prescriptions. The problem is not that the pharmacy lacks the drugs in question or that the patients don’t have insurance, Cooper said. It’s that the state’s largest insurance carrier, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, recently changed the way it pays for pharmaceuticals.
    • Feb 18, 2018
  • Legislative leadership asks governor to call special session on pharmacy reimbursement

    The Senate President Pro Tem and Speaker of the House ask the governor for a special session to tackle the pharmacy benefit manager question. No mention of Arkansas Works, however.
    • Feb 16, 2018
  • DYS to keep youth lockups

    Will do further study before seeking private provider.
    • Feb 8, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation