Governor Haslam Weighing Proposal To Expand Tennessee's Pre-K Program
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is weighing a proposal that would mean millions of dollars in federal funding to expand the state’s prekindergarten classes. Under that proposal, $64.3 million in federal funding would be matched with $6.4 million in state funding to expand the Pre-K program to another 7,800 Tennessee children. Governor Haslam is reportedly waiting for a Vanderbilt University study on pre-K effectiveness before making his final decision on that funding proposal. The first phase of that study is expected to be completed next year. Early results reported last year that there was an 82% increase in learning for students who had attended a year of pre-K, compared to students who had not. The state’s current pre-K program is voluntary for 4-year-olds who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch because of low-family income. President Barack Obama’s Preschool for All program calls for $75 billion over 10 years to expand pre-K enrollment nationwide. New funding is slated to come from an increase in federal cigarette taxes.