… at least not a four-year-old living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. If you’re in the 34 percent of Montanans that fall into that category, you’re out of luck if you want to send your kid to preschool.
That’s because Montana Republican legislators sent our congressional delegation a letter urging it to reject $40 million in federal preschool grant funding. One of the reasons to reject the funding, according to the letter, is it might hurt private preschools. But the funding would go to kids who can’t afford private preschools, so that point seems moot.
Is preschool that important? Research indicates it is:
Statistics show that a majority of kids attend at least one year of preschool: According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), more than two-thirds of 4-year-olds and more than 40 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in a preschool in 2005. “Children who attend high-quality preschool enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those who do not,” says NIEER director W. Steven Barnett, PhD.”
It should be noted that Republican candidate for superintendent of public schools, Billings Sen. Elsie Arntzen, signed the letter. Also, Montana’s two Republicans in Congress, Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Ryan Zinke, aren’t fond of the funding, although their statements to the press seem rather nebulous:
Representatives from Daines’ and Zinke’s offices confirmed that they received the letter and emphasized local control in brief, emailed statements.
“Sen. Daines understands the importance of strengthening our education system and shares the goals of improving early-childhood education,” a statement said. “However, he is concerned that current federal initiatives have failed to close the long-term achievement gap between many students.”
Democrtic Sen. Tester doesn’t agree:
“Unfortunately, there are folks who don’t think our kids are worth it and would rather privatize education, making it only accessible to those who can easily afford it.”
If you’re a kid whose parents can afford to send you to a quality preschool, you’re ahead of the game. If not, maybe you can find a Republican legislator who will tutor you after classes when you fall behind in elementary school.