Caride: Governor’s Changes to Preschool Funding Criteria Sets At-Risk Students Back

(TRENTON) – Assembly Education Committee Chair Marlene Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic) today criticized the governor’s line-item veto of budget language that would have provided school districts with large populations of at-risk students with funding for preschool programs.

The language included in the budget would have ensured that the $25 million in funding for preschool expansion went to school districts with the highest concentrations of at-risk students. Part of the criteria eliminated by the governor specified that a district would only be eligible for this funding, if they did not already receive preschool funding. By taking out all the criteria for funding distribution, the Department of Education can now award this money to any school district.

“The purpose of this provision was to expand preschool to school districts with the highest concentrations of at-risk children. Having this money go to districts that need it the most would have helped level the playing field, and ensure that all students have a solid foundation when they enter kindergarten.

“Now these students may miss out on this opportunity thanks to the governor.

“The benefits of a preschool education are well known. From ensuring school readiness to achieving higher graduation rates, early childhood education can help bridge the achievement gap.

“Research shows that at-risk students who receive support early on have a better chance at graduating high school. Why not invest in the students who are at greater risk of falling through the cracks?

“By concentrating on these students now, we could help them avoid the pitfalls that prevent many of them from thriving and meeting their full potential. Sadly, the governor just set them back.

“Like many of the things the governor does, this just doesn’t make sense.”