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Study: Florida near the bottom for funding VPK programs

A report out of Rutgers University has placed Florida 35th out of 39 states for funding Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Programs. Lynn Hatter reports researchers say a series of bills lawmakers recently signed off on don’t help the situation at all.

Florida is at the bottom of 39 states with in terms of funding its Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program. According to the Rutgers study, Pre-K funding is down $142 dollars per student, while enrollment has grown by over a million students. Dr. Steve Barnett, heads the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers. He doesn’t buy the state’s argument that there’s not enough money to go around.

 “Shorten prison sentences for non-violent offenders. Reduce the number of prison bends, and put the money into pre-school so you don’t need to put so many people into prison at the other end of the pipeline. And that’s what smart states are doing.”

The report also criticizes the quality of Florida’s VPK Programs.  Lawmakers made a series of changes to the state’s VPK program that include scaling back on screening exams and allowing some providers  more flexibility in choosing their curriculum. 

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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