Pre-Kindergarten in the South: Preserving the Region’s Comparative Advantage in Education

2010 – The report finds that Southern states are in danger of losing critical, hard-earned gains in early childhood education – the South’s most effective innovation in public education – if state legislatures in the region enact substantial cuts to pre-Kindergarten programs (pre-K).

Pre-Kindergarten in the South Update: Preserving the Region’s Comparative Advantage in Education reports the South continues to lead the nation in offering high-quality state-funded pre-K to 20 percent of the region’s three- and four-year-olds – double the rate in the rest of the nation.  Southern legislatures are however facing a collective shortfall of almost $30 billion in revenues, and many are considering deep cuts to education and related programs.

The SEF reports these investments in pre-K have continued despite a severe recession and finds the following:

  • More than half the states with the nation’s highest standards for quality in Pre-K programs remain in the South.
  • Pre-K is delivering the greatest impact for the least cost.
  • Pre-K will save revenues for states in the long run.

The report attempts to make clear that the continued education of three – and four-year old children in the South’s Pre-K programs represents a very modest but vitally important investment of state funds.  Without the benefits of Pre-K, generations of Southern children stand to lose life-changing opportunities to improve their own education and their lives by starting school ready and able to learn.  The South needs to do the right thing for these children. Expanding the development of early education in the South is not a luxury, but a necessity.

Taken as a whole, the report found that effects of juvenile justice programs are “profound and crippling,” and set young people back when they should be turning lives around, according to the report.