A national report shows Oklahoma pre-kindergarten programs have strong enrollment numbers and are some of the most accessible in the country. However, preschool funding still hasn’t recovered to pre-recession levels, and coronavirus further threatens one of the few education areas of which Oklahoma is a leader.
The success of Oklahoma's strong preschool programs is a reflection of policies dating back to 1998, when the state opened up free preschool to all families in their public school district.
The state continues to rank highly in metrics measured by the National Institute for Early Education Research’s annual State of Preschool report.
Last year, funding for preschool programs from the state rose by more than 20 percent. And more than 85 percent of the state’s four-year-olds are enrolled in preschool. However, per-pupil spending was still lower in 2019 at $4,500 per student versus more than $5,000 per student in 2008.
The report’s authors warn state budget shortfalls are likely to lead to cuts for preschools across the country, including Oklahoma.
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