Boost for Pre-K in Michigan
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) signed legislation on Wednesday that will boost funding for the state pre-k program, the Great Start Readiness Program, by $10 million. This is far short of the $31.5 million Gov. Granholm had asked for, which would have expanded the program to 7,000 more children. The program currently serves more than 25,000 low-income children across the state.
Good Start for Minnesota Early Ed Scholarship Project
A scholarship program to provide low-income families in St. Paul, Minn., with grants of up to $13,000 to attend preschool programs has experienced higher than expected enrollment for its first year, according to a report by the StarTribune. The program is run by the business- and foundation-financed Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF), which also runs the Parent Aware early childhood rating system that launched as a pilot in four regions of the state this year. Through this integrated program, MELF is able to ensure that their grants support high-quality programs by requiring students to be enrolled in programs that receive 3 or 4 stars under the rating system. The scholarship program has also encouraged private providers to return to low-income neighborhoods of the inner-city after cuts in early education subsidies forced them out of those neighborhoods in 2003-2005.
Tackling Standards-Phobia in South Dakota
Efforts to establish voluntary quality standards for preschools in South Dakota have faced an unexpected backlash from legislators who think creating standards will lead to mandatory preschool down the road. Critics say it represents government intrusion into an area already served by government and religious groups. An editorial in the Argus Leader argues that they have nothing to fear, since the program will still be voluntary and there is widespread parent support for quality standards. South Dakota is one of eleven states in the country that does not have a publicly funded pre-kindergarten program, but the state has adopted Early Learning Guidelines. South Dakota preschoolers have a friend in Gov. Mike Rounds (R) who advocated the voluntary standards and used his 2007 State of the State address to highlight a pilot pre-k project in South Dakota.