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Pre-k Funding Cuts Hurt Children Who Need it Most

Short-term fiscal fix at the expense of needy childrens' long-term futures

Gov. Nathan Deal has proposed legislation that will cut millions of dollars from Georgia's pre-k program, which offers free pre-k to 4- and 5-year-olds.

The legislation is expected to pass in a few weeks and be in effect this fall.

Some of the changes he has proposed are pretty promising. Putting $4.2 million towards increasing  the quality of pre-k and $4.5 million for at-risk extended day flat (after school care). It also adds 5,000 slots to the program to help accommodate the 9,000 kids on the waiting list.

What seems to be the largest contributor to cutting spending is cutting the pre-k day from 6.5 hours to 4 hours by removing rest time and reducing meal and routine time. I can't understand why a 4- or 5-year-old needs to be at school for 6.5 hours a day to begin with.

The shorter day was a pleasant surprise for me. I  found myself, regrettably, kinda glad they are making the changes. Now, I can send my kid for a few hours a day. I can get a break and she can be exposed to "school life."

Then I discovered the program was started as an at-risk program. The program was not started with stay-at-home moms, who need to get a break from the ever annoying "why?" in mind.  The program was started for, I think, the parents who fund it. The parents who buy lottery tickets with their last dollar, hoping to win big because it seems to be their only hope.

The ones who can't afford to send their child to pre-k and can't afford to stay home with them. The mom who can't stop working in the middle of the day to go pick up her child. The parents who are, for whatever reason, unable to  provide their own children with the school readiness skills I have been lucky enough to have the means to provide my children with.

My children will be prepared for kindergarten and probably go on to college with or without the free pre-k. These cuts do not effect my child's education as much as they effect the education of children with poor or single working moms and dads. These changes could change the course of their lives.

In the last fiscal year, the Georgia Lottery took in more than $3.6 billion and gave $883.9 million in profit to the state for education.

This may account for the president of the Georgia Lottery  receiving a bonus of $236,500 in addition to her $286,000 salary, as well as the four percent raises the lottery’s 260 employees received this past year. However, all of the reasons funding for pre-k education is being cut by millions of dollars, are lost on me. At this point, I do not know if I want to send my child to free pre-k, taking the much needed spot from an at risk child.

Besides, I've never bought a lottery ticket.

A. Hobbs February 23, 2011 at 04:59 PM
The unfortunate side of this argument is that your child, and other's like yours with the benefit of a stay at home mom, will suffer because of these cuts. The children who need the pre-K (4) year of school learn valuable academic and social skills that are necessary for the whole classroom management system to work. Teachers are losing assistants and gaining more students. This will have a great impact on the quality of your child's Kindergarten education if you should choose to educate her/him in the public schools in your neighborhoods. Children who don't have these skills before Kindergarten require much more attention from the adults in the classroom. They will need more individual attention learning to hold a pencil, forming letters, sitting for extended periods of time, sharing and most of all walking in line. Children who have already mastered these skills will suffer through extended periods of self-managed time in the classroom. While self-managing, your student will not be challenged, and he/she will observe never before seen and sometimes frightening behaviors of other students in their classroom. Kindergarten is often a time of identifying students who require additional services for a successful education.
A. Hobbs February 23, 2011 at 05:02 PM
These services could be Special Education services (like Speech and Language Therapy or Occupational Therapy) or services for the Gifted and Talented. Unfortunately, these services are also receiving funding cuts that prolong the process of identification as well as service hours for these students. Unfortunately, all public school students will suffer from these funding cuts far beyond the pre-K (4) classroom.
Roger Alan Wade February 23, 2011 at 05:54 PM
To A. Hobbs; The truly unfortunate side of the argument is the ridiculous salaries & bonuses of the Lottery Czar and her money-drunk underlings. Those who line their own pockets with dollars purportedly raised to educate and care for children are greedy weasels. I understand there are costs associated with running the whole lottery scam, but for these shylocks to pocket exorbitant salaries & bonuses while the benefits to school children are being cut is deplorable, despicable and morally criminal. They are just using the children as their "logo" and "bait" and trotting them out much like Sally Struthers did with the starving & hungry children a few years back. The starving children got a few morsels of rice & Sally gorged on Twinkies and blew up to 285 lbs. ...this lottery scam is very similar. They should be ashamed. -btw, very fine article & give 'em hell, Ms Hollomon !
A. Hobbs February 24, 2011 at 12:11 AM
After asking my "friends" on a certain social network what they thought, I received this reply from a mother who wishes to remain anonymous... I see this from a different perspective because my children are younger and I am not a teacher. I thought the Pre-K program was supposed to be for either special needs children or for working parents. Instead it has become universal daycare for SAHMs who can't wait an extra minute to ditch their kids. If non-working mothers wouldn't dump their children into the Pre-K program the program would be solvent.
Roger Alan Wade February 24, 2011 at 08:51 AM
http://www.facebook.com/rogeralanwade/posts/203554622995197
Bailey February 24, 2011 at 09:20 AM
The phrase "non working mothers" is just plain stupid. SAHMs are some of the hardest working people i have ever known and i certainly don't know of any more difficult, demanding and trying job than tending to children. A lot of people with young children "work" some prissy-ass job rather than stay at home and raise their own children. Motherhood is a real job and some women w/ children can't handle the pressure & responsibility of tending to their own children so they work outside the home and fancy themselves as businesswomen. I'll put SAHMs up against any these pompous, whiny "Career" girls anytime. You have to be industrious, savvy, patient, tough, smart, strong, wise, durable, accountable & responsible to be a SAHM & the system should be available to them and assist and support them. Hail to SAHMs. They are not the problem, they are the solution.
Shandy Dixon February 24, 2011 at 06:55 PM
The word on the street for "stay at home mom" has been that Pre K is a great tool to aid in a child's social and emotional development. I just could not dare fault a parent who may sacrifice a paying job in order to stay home and then take advantage of the free or low cost pre k. We all want the best for our children. If the 3 yr. old's mother is headed off to work, get her nails done or even just to rest ..that doesn't matter. The focus is the child and the child's enrichment. If these little ones don't get set up on the right track they will not have any use for the lottery higher education scholarships. The money should be invested in the children..LOTS of money!!! rich or poor, black or white teach them all, every one of them!
Shannon Sanders February 28, 2011 at 04:09 PM
@Bailey... Coming from both sides - formerly a mom who worked outside the home and currently a SAHM, I find some of the comments made frustrating... faulting moms who work outside the home as if they don't care for or can't handle their children as much as SAHMs. I agree, staying at home with kids takes talent and is not easy, but neither is working outside the home and being a mom. You're living in a bubble if you think there is only one solution to raising children. For one, not all mom's have the luxury of being able to make a choice of staying at home or working. There are single moms who can't stay at home and others who need a dual income in order to pay the bills, not all moms are in families in higher income brackets. I have had one child who has gone through GA Pre-K and appreciated the relief of one daycare bill while the other began daycare. Have you seen GA's rankings in education? Though I wasn't completely impressed with the GA Pre-K program as compared to the curriculum of the daycare center my child attended, I feel it is a necessary program for many and children from all backgrounds that can benefit from Pre-K programs and it is unfair to judge parents who choose to put their child into Pre-K. Didn't many, many women fight for the right to choose - to work or not to work? I think we should commend anyone who is a good mom whether they work outside the home or not and not be so critical of people's choices.
Bailey February 28, 2011 at 04:38 PM
@ Shannon, Fine point & i 100% agree w/ you. I should have been more clear. I was absolutely not aiming my comment at those brave and talented Moms who have no choice. I was referring to the silver spoon elitist quoted in "A. Hobbs" post. My deep & sincere apologies & Kindest Regards, my friend.

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