Quote of the DayApril 7, 2009
Quote of the DayApril 8, 2009
A new report is out today on national preschool costs and access, courtesy of The Rutgers-based National Institute for Early Education Research. Right now 38 states provide some sort of publicly funded preschools and NIEER rates them all on access, standards, and cost. As Michael Symons points out in The Asbury Park Press, New Jersey has 26% of its 3 and 4 year olds enrolled in state-funded preschool, which puts us 15th out of 38 in access. The NIEER data base shows that our enrollment has been steady for the last five years and our quality, based on NIEER criteria, is pretty good too.
How about cost? You guessed it: New Jersey spends the most per pupil: $10,989. Again, from the NIEER database:
• Cost of academic-year program: The National Center for Education Statistics projects the total cost of a year of K-12 public school to be $8800 for 2002, with an average pupil- teacher ratio of 16:1. Quality preschool programs need an assistant teacher in each class. This second person could increase costs (assistant teacher salaries average $15,000 plus 25% in benefits), however, public school costs already include aides and other support costs, as well as costs that may not apply to preschoolers. Therefore, NIEER assumes the average cost of preschool during the academic year would be the same as the K-12 cost-per-child, approximately $8800
The top three states that spend the most per pupil are New Jersey, Oregon, and Minnesota. The states with the most frugal/cheap/cost-effective programs are Maine, South Carolina, and Colorado.
Our most expensive programs are in Abbott districts, partly because they’re full-day. We spend $12,297 per child. Our non-Abbott state-funded preschools are a bargain at $4,580 a child because they’re half-day programs and they also meet fewer of the standards: 6 out of 10, unlike the Abbotts, which meet 9 out of 10. Our Early Launch to Literacy Initiative (ELLI) preschool is just a tad over $4,000 per youngster, although the State grants that fund this program, started by former Governor James McGreevey as a way to provide preschools for poor kids who don’t live in Abbott districts (sound familiar?), have reportedly disappeared.
It’s just more of the same: we won’t bring down costs unless we find a way to streamline our delivery of educational services, whether it’s for three-year-olds or sixteen-year-olds.