Report: preschool faces a ‘crisis of quality’

First, the good news.

Enrollment in the state’s publicly funded preschools has slightly increased since 2010 and funding has remained steady. Most other states weren’t as fortunate, as they gutted funding and shrank enrollment.

Now, the bad news.

Only 10 percent of the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled in the state’s School Readiness or Head Start programs, which are the only preschool programs that the National Institute for Early Education Research deem worthy of considering early education programs.

“As enrollments and demand for high-quality pre-K continue to rise, the nation is experiencing a crisis in quality. It is vitally important that the public understand what is happening since only high-quality pre-K is proven to be a good public investment,” the NIEER annual report, released Tuesday, says.

Connecticut currently ranks 29th in the percentage of 4-year-olds that attend these quality state-funded preschools, according to the national report card. However, the legislature’s Appropriations Committee has approved a bill that would funnel $8 million into the state’s lowest-performing districts to add 1,000 additional preschool seats. That would boost enrollment by 9 percent in the state’s School Readiness preschool programs.

The state does spend millions more for early childhood programs aside from the School Readiness and Head Start programs, but there are few or no educational standards.