Earlier today, Gov. Murphy announced his plans to provide nearly $27 million for preschool education in our state’s public schools, a measure that NJEA has long-supported. Addressing the crowd at the Woodmere Elementary School in Eatontown, Murphy outlined a second round of state funding to create or expand preschool programs in 33 additional school districts through the state’s Preschool Education Expansion Aid (PEEA), which would allow over 2,300 more children access to a high-quality preschool classroom later this fall.
In his announcement, Gov. Murphy said the following:
“Expanding early childhood education is among the smartest investments we can make for the future of our state. Providing children with access to high-quality education is a vital component of building a stronger and fairer New Jersey where children and families can thrive.”
New Jersey’s current school funding system expands preschool offerings to all students who are at risk in districts across the state. In 2008 under then-governor Jon Corzine, NJ law provided pre-K to 35 school districts, but promised to expand pre-K to more communities. However, the first funding for that promise occurred nearly a decade later – in mid-2017 for the 2017-18 school year.
Significant funding for pre-k expansion was included for the 2018-19 school year as part of the first budget under the Murphy administration. Although more than 100 New Jersey communities now have pre-K, under the law, the number should be in the hundreds, leaving tens of thousands of 3- and 4-year-olds still waiting for access to pre-K.
NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty attended the announcement.
“NJEA is proud to advocate for expanded access to high-quality pre-kindergarten. It is one of the most effective steps in ensuring that every child has the support and resources he or she needs to succeed,” said Beatty. “We are pleased that Governor Murphy also recognizes its value and is committed to secure funding to make it a reality here in New Jersey.”
NJEA believes that all children should be afforded access to safe, high quality early childhood education. This education should include a developmentally appropriate curriculum, knowledgeable and well-trained staff and educators, comprehensive services to support health, nutrition, and social welfare, and a program that respects and supports diversity.
The demand for early childhood education programs has continued to increase in response to the growing recognition of the critical importance of educational experiences during the early years. Research demonstrates that high-quality developmentally appropriate early childhood programs produce both short- and long-term positive effects on a child’s cognitive and social development.
Earlier this school year, Gov. Murphy announced the initial round of PEEA funding, allocating $20.6 million to expand existing preschool programs for more than 2,000 children in another 31 school districts. This latest announcement brings the total funding to nearly $50 million, as well as brings the state closer to its goal of making access to preschool a reality for as many children as possible.
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