Isles rate No. 15 in preschool spending
A national report concludes that more Hawaii youngsters should have access
Despite a slight decline in spending, Hawaii ranked 15th out of 38 states in resources devoted to preschool students, according to a study released last week.
Nearly $3,500 was spent per child enrolled in Hawaii's preschool program during the 2004-05 school year, according to a report by the National Institute for Early Education Research of Rutgers University.
But the state served just 1 percent of its 3-year-olds and 5 percent of its 4-year-olds in state-funded preschool last year, ranking it 22nd and 28th in the nation respectively of 38 states with programs, according to "The State of Preschool: 2005 State Preschool Yearbook."
There are 12 states without state-funded preschool programs.
The annual report ranks access, resources and quality of state preschool initiatives.
Hawaii's pre-kindergarten initiative meets only four of the 10 quality benchmarks cited by the yearbook.
"Hawaii's children who participate in state-funded preschool get an important boost to their educational and social skills," said NIEER Director W. Steve Barnett. "However, many more children need such a boost to help them succeed in kindergarten and beyond."
The report showed that state spending on preschool nationwide grew by 7.5 percent even after adjusting for inflation. The 38 states that now fund programs serve more than 800,000 3- and 4-year-old children.
"It is clear that few states treat pre-kindergarten as real education to be delivered in good and bad financial times," Barnett said. "This pattern of expansion and contraction is unfortunate. A stable, highly effective educational system for young children will remain out of reach as long as policymakers find it acceptable to cut preschool education whenever the economy enters a downturn."
The group said research shows that high-quality preschool improves high school graduation rates and college attendance, employment and earnings, even marriage rates.
Preschool education also lessens future crime and delinquency and unhealthy behaviors like smoking and drug use.