WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Government is trapped for cash, but the Senate is considering kicking in some extra money to help you get pre-k for your four-year-old.
New reports say 76 percent of youngsters are enrolled in our state's pre-kindergarten program.
Action News' Scott Macfarlane reports congress is mulling over a likely-expensive, nationwide expansion to get more kids enrolled.
Amid protests, sweeping and potentially ugly budget cuts this could be a tough sell. Pre-k for every american child. Washington would pick up 50 percent of the tab, our state or your school district would pick up the rest of the tab.
Even the US senator who today officially proposed a nationwide expansion of pre-k says he's not sure how much it will cost.
"We may have to start small...I know it's hard to get dollars...it's important we start..and over time test it, and make sure we get the results we intend," says Pennsylvania representative Bob Casey.
Expensive or not, an expansion of pre-k is popular.
Big businesses support it, the senator says, data showing a dollar spent on pre-kindergarten can save seven dollars spent dealing with future special ed, crimes and welfare costs.
Our review of enrollment figures from the National Institute for Early Education Research finds some states trailing far behind others in getting four-year-olds enrolled in education programs.
More than 50 percent of four-year-olds are in state pre-k programs in Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma, but less than 20 percent in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Congress' budget gridlock and the $85 billion in imminent budget cuts threaten to slash more school programs from pre-k through high school.
"It's gonna cut money for after school programs, special ed programs across the board," says Joel Packer, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding. "So we're gonna be moving backwards in federal funds."
That congressional gridlock is perhaps the biggest obstacle to this proposal to expand pre-k. At this moment, congress seems unable to agree on anything, expensive or inexpensive for adults or four year olds.