Wednesday, June 5, 2013
As a sign of the times, South Carolina is debating the continued expansion of pre-kindergarten education. For those who follow school finance litigation, pre-k has been a consistent remedial focus in several states, most notably New Jersey, which has the longest running school finance litigation in the nation and now the highest quality pre-k program.
Research has consistently shown that high quality pre-k is the most cost-effective measure for closing achievement gaps. South Carolina expanded its pre-k program a few years ago in response to a trial court's finding that the education system was constitutionally inadequate. The case is currently before the state supreme court and, thus, the legislature's consideration of further expansion makes sense. It is also consistent with the President's Obama's focus on pre-k during his last state of the union address.
So what is the dispute about now? The dispute is over who will deliver pre-k and receive the resource influx. The initial proposal in South Carolina called for 85% of new pre-k dollars to go to public schools. Republican legislators are now calling for 85% of the funds to go to private schools in the form of vouchers and tax credits.
For more on the story, see here.