President Obama’s State of the Union call to expand access to pre-K for low and middle-income four-year olds leaves the early childhood world excited, but with many questions. The biggest: How does the president plan on funding this ambitious proposal? What might he be able to do using just the executive branch, and what would require cooperation from an often-recalcitrant Congress?
We hope to be able to better address these financing questions tomorrow when the president heads to Georgia for what looks to be a major pre-K policy speech. In the meantime, we can offer a number of resources on how pre-K is currently funded across the United States. We have four Background and Analysis pages that cover the different ways in which the federal government and states fund education for three and four-year olds:
The president will likely use one or more of these sources in proposing pre-K expansion, but he may also propose blending funding streams.
In addition, our Federal Education Budget Project database displays data on pre-K at the state and district level. The database allows comparison between pre-K and K-12 enrollment and funding across states. For example, head over to the page on Georgia to get a sense of pre-K funding in that state ahead of President Obama’s speech in the Atlanta area tomorrow. We also recommend the National Institute of Early Education Research’s State of Preschool Yearbook, which contains a plethora of funding and enrollment data, as well as quality metrics.
UPDATE: We followed up with a post on our second big question about Obama's pre-K proposal: How will the administration define pre-K quality?
Also see today's post on our sister blog, Higher Ed Watch, about the College Scorecard that Obama mentioned in last night's speech.