Senate Committee Passes Pre-K Plan

Thursday, April 21, 2005 - by Andy Spears, Senate Democratic Press Secretary

Nashville – The Senate Education Committee today passed Governor Bredesen’s pre-kindergarten initiative. The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Don McLeary (D-Jackson).

“Today, we took a big step forward in making pre-kindergarten a reality,” McLeary said. “Pre-k is a tremendous investment in our future. Recent studies have shown that only 53% of Tennessee ninth-graders go on to graduate from high school. Expanding pre-kindergarten will help us improve these numbers.”

McLeary is referring to a study by the Manhattan Institute of Public Policy that ranked Tennessee 48th in the nation in high school graduation rate.

“We simply must do better,” McLeary said. “Numerous studies have shown pre-kindergarten education yields significant long-term benefits. Students who have completed preschool are more likely to graduate from high school, complete college, and find a stable, good-paying job.”

McLeary’s legislation would expand the state’s pilot pre-k program using $25 million in funds from the lottery. The program would be voluntary and will give preference to at-risk children.

“Pre-k is about our future,” McLeary said. “It’s about improving the quality of life for every Tennessean. Today’s action puts us one step closer to making Tennessee better tomorrow and for years to come.”

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