Archive for Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Poll shows Kansans back pre-kindergarten programs

September 29, 2004


— Good policy and good politics are intersecting at the crossroads of pre-kindergarten education, child advocates said Tuesday.

Kansas Action for Children released a poll that showed nearly eight of 10 Kansas voters support state funding for pre-kindergarten programs and believe it should be made available to all children.

"The poll lends strong support for making access to pre-kindergarten an important strategy for meeting Kansas' constitutional duty to provide suitable educational opportunities for all children," said KAC executive director Gary Brunk. "It also shows this is a winning issue for legislative candidates."

A state district judge has declared Kansas' $2.7 billion school finance system unconstitutional because it shortchanges all students, especially minorities and students with disabilities. The case is before the Kansas Supreme Court.

KAC has argued in a legal brief filed in the lawsuit that increasing funding for state-supported pre-kindergarten programs would help close an achievement gap between students from low-income and wealthy families.

The poll, which was conducted in July, of 503 frequent voters showed that 90 percent of respondents believe children's attendance of high-quality pre-kindergarten is important to prepare them for school.

Seventy-nine percent believe in making pre-kindergarten available to all children, and 78 percent support state funding for pre-kindergarten programs.

A recent national report chided Kansas for trailing other states in getting more children into early learning.

Kansas spent $12.7 million enrolling 5,453 four-year-olds in pre-kindergarten, the report said. Oklahoma is spending nearly $73 million for pre-kindergarten for 30,000 children.

In Lawrence, the school district provides pre-school to about 100 four-year-olds.

KAC also argues that investing state funds in early learning will reduce expenses in later years by lowering the need for remedial and special education.

(Poll results are available at

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