The Pre-K program for FY12 will open its doors in the fall with the best possible plan given the reduced budget, but another door has opened that bodes well for the future of young children in Georgia.

Governor Nathan Deal announced changes today to his Pre-K proposal that will maintain a high level of quality and will reduce disruptions to children, families, and providers.  The choices were tough for the Governor and his Commissioner of Early Care and Learning but they promise to maximize the budget dollars reserved for PreK.

There is other good news that comes from this crisis and from the very energetic voices that were heard by our elected and appointed leaders.  The experience we have had in the state with Pre-K for the last 18 years has made believers out of Georgians:  Pre-K is not a luxury; it is an early and fundamental step in a child’s learning and preparation for school and for life. 

The voices that were heard at the state capitol were not just from current parents and teachers at risk of losing hours or jobs. Other voices were loud and clear about the importance of Pre-K to later learning; the need for high quality in the program; the impact on working parents; and the value of  well trained professionals.  Why else would  Pre-K teachers suggest increasing their class sizes?  would school superintendents begin searching for local funding? would advocates agree to a smaller increase in slots?  would center directors accept smaller profits or, for nonprofits, the need for more fundraising?  All are advocates for preserving and extending early learning opportunities because they know that both children and the state’s economy are significantly affected by these investments.

The governor likewise understands the value of early learning for Georgia.  We congratulate him for upholding his commitment to reducing the waiting list and maintaining qualified professionals to teach our children.  And we look forward to working together to continue to improve Georgia Pre-K and all early childhood programs as times improve.

Pat Willis, Executive Director

Voices for Georgia’s Children

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