States across the nation are leading the way to ensure more children—especially those from low-income families—have access to high-quality early learning and care from birth through age five. And this year, Republican and Democratic governors from every corner of the nation have used their annual State of the State addresses to highlight their commitment to early childhood education.
In fact, one in three U.S. governors who delivered State of the State addresses in 2018 specifically highlighted early learning initiatives. Of those, 59% were Republican governors, and 41% were Democrats.
The governors used their annual address to celebrate progress make new commitments to their states’ youngest learners. Take a look at the top 10 early learning moments from 2018’s State of the State addresses:
- Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant Touts A New Program Aimed at Increasing the Quality of Child Care: “The council began a program where child care workers will be receiving training to provide a learning component in day care centers. Remember, most of our children will spend an average of 12,000 hours of their most formative years in child care or a custodial environment […] Our next generation of leaders are today in a childcare facility. Mississippi is looking to the horizon to make sure they have the skills needed to succeed.” (Source: Clarion Ledger)
- Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton Cites Nearly 80,000 Children Attending Full-Day ECE Programs Statewide: ” During my two terms, we have made substantial increases in our state investments in education — in our people — starting from early childhood; to universal, all-day kindergarten; all the way through elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education. This school year, nearly 80,000 children are attending all-day kindergarten and early learning programs thanks to those wise investments; and those 80,000 children are getting better starts in school and life because of them.” (Source: Office Of Governor Mark Dayton)
- Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards Announces Interstate Early Child Care and Education Commission: “One of the things I’ve learned serving as chair of the Southern Region Education Board is that improving public education should never be a competition among states but rather a collaborative effort to learn from each other. Therefore, we will create the Early Childhood Care and Education Commission, which will work closely in partnership with the National Governors Association.” (Source: Office Of The Governor)
- Georgia Governor Nathan Deal Acknowledges the Importance of Education and Development to Kids Before Kindergarten: “We have increased education spending by $3.6 billion dollars over the last seven years, which includes my final budget proposal, making the total education expenditure during my time as governor roughly $14 billion. No other administration in Georgia history has planted so many trees of knowledge. One such tree we planted this past year is the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at the Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville. It is a training and research center that focuses on children from birth to third grade – perhaps the most critical period of any child’s development and education. It is during this window of opportunity that we can best lay down a strong, enduring foundation for all other aspects of a student’s academic career. If we fail to reach Georgia’s youngest minds during that time, if we fail to get them reading on grade level by the end of third grade, they are much more likely to fall behind, both in the classroom and the life that awaits them beyond.” (Source: Office Of The Governor)
- New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez Calls for Multi-Million Dollar Increase In Child Care And Pre-K Investments After Having Already Tripled The Number Of Children In New Mexico Who Receive A Pre-K Education: “…my budget calls for a $25 million increase in child care services and an additional $8 million to expand pre-K programs throughout New Mexico. On my watch, we’ve already tripled the number of children who receive a pre-K education, and this new funding will allow us to serve nearly 2,000 more kids.” (Source: Office Of The Governor)
- Alabama Governor Kay Ivey Celebrates Alabama’s Top-Ranked Pre-K Program: “For the 11th year in a row, our First-Class Pre-K program was recognized for being the highest-quality Pre-K in the nation. In fact, Harvard University is currently developing a full-length documentary on Alabama’s Pre-K program to share across the country with those interested in following our lead. Our First-Class Pre-K is certainly a bright spot for Alabama.” (Source: Alabama Media Group)
- Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf Celebrates the Near-Doubling Of Pennsylvania Children Enrolled In Pre-K: “Today, we have nearly 100,000 students enrolled in full-day kindergarten, and we’ve increased the number of kids able to attend pre-kindergarten by nearly half.” (Source: Office Of The Governor)
- Vermont Governor Phil Scott Highlights Multi-Million Dollar Funding Increase For Child Care Financial Assistance Program: ” If we work together to transform our K through 12 system, based on the needs of our kids and not nostalgia, we can invest much more in early care and learning, technical education, workforce readiness training, and higher education without raising the price tag on Vermonters. We made some progress towards this Cradle-to-Career vision last year, increasing investments in our Child Care Financial Assistance Program by $2.5 million and in the Vermont State College System by $3 million.” (Source: Office Of The Governor)
- New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu Highlights Expanded Access To Full-Day Kindergarten, Regardless Of Where A Family Lives: “Today in New Hampshire, a family’s educational opportunities are growing. Whether it’s access to a full-day kindergarten program or whether a family is seeking an alternative education for their kids, a family’s zip-code no longer limits their opportunity to succeed.” (Source: New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu)
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Calls For Continued Pre-K Expansion: “We must continue our historic investment in public education and expand three- and four-year-old pre-K and after school and computer sciences because our greatest asset is our young people and everything we do is for their future.” (Source: Governor.ny.gov)
Nationwide, state-funded preschool program enrollment reached an all-time high in 2016, serving nearly 1.5 million children, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. And while red and blue states alike are creating and expanding investments in quality early childhood education, the reality is that states cannot do it alone. A new resource from FFYF details that, based on the ESSA plans submitted by states, there is a clear sign that states see ECE as an integral part of their education systems and pipeline—from how they can help schools improve to how they are holding schools accountable. Strong partnerships with the federal government will allow states to do even more to serve children from birth through age 5 – particularly those from low-income families.