State of Tennessee Press Release; Aug. 3, 2010:
NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen and Education Commissioner Tim Webb today announced that Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program now extends to every school district in all 95 counties of the state. This marks the first Voluntary Pre-K classrooms for Sumner County and Washington County Schools.
For the 2010-11 academic year, the state’s program includes 934 Pre-K classrooms with total funding of approximately $84.7 million.
“I’m extremely pleased our high quality Pre-K classrooms are now available in every county of the state,” said Bredesen. “Pre-K is one of the best investments we can make in the lives of our young people, and now that opportunity is available to more parents and families who want it for their children across the state of Tennessee.”
“Governor Bredesen’s dedication to Pre-K has been unwavering and this is the ultimate result of that dedication,” Webb said. “There is no more important time than now to dedicate early education resources as we ramp up our standards and prepare to implement our Race to the Top plan.”
Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K program once again received high marks this year in the National Institute of Early Education Research’s annual report, which ranked Tennessee among the top states for percentage of children enrolled and funding per child. Tennessee’s program met nine out of 10 quality standard benchmarks in the report, increased enrollment of four-year-olds and earned an overall ranking of 15th for funding per child with $4,520.
The emphasis placed on early childhood education has also been cited as one of the factors for success in Tennessee’s Race to the Top application. Tennessee was one of just two states out of 41 applicants to be successful in Race to the Top’s first round.