NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Is Preschool "Catching Fire?"

March 13, 2000

Although until recently most children in the U.S. never attended kindergarten, the Washington Post reports that "the preschool movement is spreading across the country, much as the kindergarten concept caught fire in the United States at the turn of the century."

While kindergarten students are five or six years old, preschool or pre-K students are usually three and four year olds, and some politicians have called for universally accessible -- if not mandatory -- publicly funded preschool education.

  • Forty-two states now offer free or subsidized preschool.
  • Enrollment has swelled to 750,000 children, according to a recent study by the Children's Defense Fund.
  • State spending on pre-kindergarten programs topped $1.5 billion last year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, up from $180 million in 1987.

Source: Washington Morning Update (Bulletin News Network); Salmon, Grimsley, "Preschool Becoming Increasingly Popular," Washington Post, March 13, 2000.


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