The children of middle-income families would stand to lose the most under a legislative proposal to cut state funding of preschool programs – according to a new report from an Iowa City based research group. Noga O’Connor, with the Iowa Policy Project, is author of the report, titled “Preschool: A Place in the Middle.”
The House Education Committee last week approved a bill to scrap the current preschool program, which is free for all four-year-olds. The new plan would give only families earning less than $67,000 a year assistance on a sliding scale. O’Connor says families slightly above that threshold would be forced into a difficult decision about whether or not to send their child to preschool.
“For families in that income bracket, it’s not realistic to afford preschool on their own,” O’Connor said. “Preschool costs over $70,000 a year in Iowa right now.” O’Connor says many students of middle-income families are struggling academically and benefit greatly from preschool.
“The talk about cutting funding to preschool really makes no sense considering what we know scientifically about preschool,” O’Connor said. Other research, O’Connor says, clearly shows the payoff from full state funding of preschool is worth the investment.
“It more than makes up for the initial investment in savings on special or remedial education, criminal justice, and child welfare savings to the state,” O’Connor said. “So, this is a smart financial investment even if you just look at it from the narrow angle of investing financially.” Governor Branstad and other Republicans in the legislators say the state is facing a $700 million gap between spending and revenues, and can no longer afford to finance the cost of preschool for all four-year-olds.
See the full report here: www.iowapolicyproject.org/2011docs/110303-CIF-preschool.pdf