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Motivations for State Investment in Pre-Kindergarten Programs Cultural Factors, School Failures, and Helping States Invest “Better” Elaine Weiss, PhD Candidate,

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Presentation on theme: "Motivations for State Investment in Pre-Kindergarten Programs Cultural Factors, School Failures, and Helping States Invest “Better” Elaine Weiss, PhD Candidate,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Motivations for State Investment in Pre-Kindergarten Programs Cultural Factors, School Failures, and Helping States Invest “Better” Elaine Weiss, PhD Candidate, the G.W. University

2 The Importance of Pre-K for Low- Income, Female-Headed Families  Early years of children’s lives central to later development Increasing concern re lack of school readiness, rich-poor/white-black gap Children of poor, single mothers at risk  Evidence that ECE interventions help Common in Europe, where schools are ↑ Head Start vs. “model” programs Targeted vs. “universal” (UPK)

3 Why State Motivations Matter  Policy: Understanding reasons for program  better program, better evaluation Pre-K advocates can better push for adoption, and retention, of programs Re UPK, understand trade-offs, potential gains and losses for most at-risk kids

4 Research Questions, Hypotheses  Motivations for state investment? Internal – political, economic, strength/ weakness of education system/labor force External – inter-state imitation, competition Cultural features mediate above  different “sets” of motivators for different states  Trade-offs of “going to scale” – i.e., pros and cons of UPK?

5 Initial Results:Economic and Political Characteristics  Economic influences: strong in the South  Political influences: stronger in the non-South StatesIncomePovertyState Gov’t Liberalism QualityAll South Non-South AccessAll South Non-South

6 Initial Results: Education System and Labor Force Influences  Education/Labor Force: strong in the South StatesK-12 $% B.A.s% below basic QualityAll South Non-South AccessAll South Non-South

7 Quality-Access Matrix Quality High Quality Medium Quality Low Access High GA, IL, KY, NJ, OK, SC MD, VT, WVNY, TX, WI Access Medium AR, LA, MO, NE CTCA, CO, KS, ME, MI, VA Access Low AL, DE, MN, NC, TN IA, MA, OH, OR, WA AZ, HI, NV, NM, PA

8 “Role Models”: GA and OK  Georgia: Devoted policy entrepreneur: Zell Miller Dedicated funding source: lottery Private-public partnership  Oklahoma: Devoted policy entrepreneur: oil baron Dedicated funding source: public schools State law allows empty kindergarten classrooms used for four-year-olds

9 Analysis/Policy Implications  Policy-makers: Know your reasons for having pre-k. Poor schools/labor force? Broad school readiness issues? Rich/poor gap? Targeted at-risk children?  Pre-K advocates: Understand differences among states. Target your message based on state’s specific needs. Help policy-makers design good program, maintain public support, properly evaluate program outcomes. Keep in mind UPK trade-offs, use role models as guides.  Parents and those guiding them: Look at state’s pre-k program when making life choices.


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