The National Institute for Early Education Research on Tuesday called Alabama’s state pre-kindergarten program the best in the United States.
Though the NIEER praised Alabama as one of only five states in the country to meet or exceed all of the quality benchmarks set by the group, access is still a significant issue: only 13 percent of 4-years-olds currently have access to the state program because of limited funding by the state legislature.
Towards that end, the Alabama School Readiness Alliance and its business-led Pre-K Task Force are engaging in a 10-year program – currently in year three – to increase funding to allow it to reach all eligible Alabama residents.
The state Senate’s budget unanimously included a $13.5 million increase for Pre-K funding, a major step in the right direction amid a looming budget shortfall.
If approved by the generally more fiscally conservative House and approved by Gov. Robert Bentley, 145 more classrooms serving another 2,600 children could be constructed.