Nearly half of governors mentioned early care and education in their 2012 state of the state addresses, according to the National Women’s Law Center. According to NWLC’s yearly speech analysis, this is up from 2011 when only 17 governors made mention; this year it was 22.
The NWLC, a non-profit organization that advocates for policies to support women, has compiled early care and education quotes from governor’s speeches – a helpful resource, especially given the conclusion of the Pre-K Now campaign that had provided a similar service for several years, detailing governors’ pre-K proposals. Governors most often referred to increased investments, protecting funding or child care assistance, efforts to reorganize or consolidate programs, and the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge according to the NWLC analysis.
Early Care and Education References in Governors State of State Addresses
Increased investments in early care and education
Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois and Kentucky
Protecting funding for child care assistance
Rhode Island and Tennessee
Reorganization or consolidation of programs for increased focus, efficiency and coordination
Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi and Oregon
Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grants
Delaware, Minnesota, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington
Here are a few quotes from governors’ speeches that we found interesting:
- “Currently, there are 23 separate funding streams administered through five different state agencies, each playing a role in early childhood support and services. Together, we are proposing a state-local strategy that integrates prevention and intervention, quality early learning and family support and engagement. Our plan will consolidate early childhood services in a new office in the Department of Human Services.” – John Hickenlooper (D), Colorado
- “Within education, I have called for a new focus on our youngest learners. The budget I’m proposing increases the pre-K school year for 84,000 students by 10 days, bringing it to 170 days. I am proud to say that this will allow us to begin restoring pre-K teacher salaries!” – Nathan Deal (R), Georgia
- “…let’s assure that children can read by the end of third grade. Otherwise, they will fall further and further behind. An intensive focus on literacy means working closely with families and providing more support for reading and writing in schools starting in preschool, and continuing through kindergarten, first, second, and third grades.” – Terry Branstad (R), Iowa
- “I have always believed the responsibility for a child’s earliest learning belongs to the parents. I do realize [that] in today’s society many of our children are in taxpayer funded day care centers. Head Start and other Federal programs provide Mississippi more than $241 million annually for child care programs. I would suggest that we collaborate our efforts in early childhood learning by monitoring the learning opportunities in licensed child care centers to include more than just the room size and number of bathrooms. Currently, the Department of Health receives funding from the Department of Human Services for inspection and monitoring of licensed child care centers. If we combine their functions into a Division of Early Childhood Learning under the Department of Human Services, we could streamline services and improve our ability to identify the quality of programs for early childhood learning. This can be done with enabling legislation that has no cost. The funding now being transferred from the Department of Human Services to the State health department will simply be retained and shared. In the next year we will gather additional information from ongoing programs such as Building Blocks, Excel by 5, Allies for Quality Childcare Project, and the Quality Rating System, that will give us the metrics we need to determine the best practices for Early Childhood Learning.” – Phil Bryant (R), Mississippi
- “For the first time, funding and governance will be aligned across the full continuum from early childhood services through K-12 and post-secondary education and training to achieve our state’s educational, social and economic objectives.” – John Kitzhaber (D), Oregon
- “With the help of Representative Mel Brown and Senator Lyle Hillyard, we have expanded early intervention programs for our at-risk students, programs empirically proven to help reach our critical goal of reading proficiency by the end of the third grade.” – Gary Herbert (R), Utah
- “We will require the state’s Young Star program which works with child care providers to include a new focus on reading skills and new training on early childhood education.” – Scott Walker (R), Wisconsin
Once again this year, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R - Indiana), pushed for increased funding for full-day kindergarten. Daniels said, “With this year’s spending increases, plus the additional funds we requested for full day kindergarten, K-12 spending is now 56 percent of the entire state budget, the highest percentage of any state in the nation. No state anywhere devotes more of its state funds to education.” (Because the NWLC compilation focused on early care and education programs aimed at children under age 5, this quote was not included in their compilation. Indiana does not have a state-funded pre-K program.)
In some states, the absence of comments about pre-K, child care or kindergarten was almost as telling as the inclusion of them. For example, last year, Arizona cut funding for its state funded pre-K program, and this year, Governor Jan Brewer made no mention of early care and education in her 2012 state of the state address.
The other states whose governors made no reference to early care and education are: Alaska, California, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming. Governors from Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota and Texas did not deliver state of the state addresses.
CORRECTION 4/17 at 12:20 p.m.: An earlier version of this post did not list New Jersey as a state whose governor made no reference to early care and education.