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South Leads Nation in Pre-K Education

By Associated Press

Atlanta, GA – The South, which has lagged for decades in most areas of education, is leading the country in early childhood education enrollment and quality, according to a report released today by the Southern Education Foundation.

According to the report, 19 percent of the region's three- and four-year-olds are enrolled in pre-K. That number compares to 12 percent in the Northeast, nine percent in the Midwest and five-point-six percent in the West.

The foundation's report analyzed several independent studies done in the South over the past decade of state-supported pre-K programs, shown to be critical in shaping a child's future. Though the report acknowledges that there are different benchmarks for measuring quality pre-K programs, it found that all six states requiring full-day pre-K programs are in the South and that nine southern states fund Pre-K above the national average cost per child.

The program coordinator for the Southern Education Foundation, Steve Suitts, said "Pre-K is a long-term, essential strategy for closing the gap on the quality of life between the South and the rest of the country." He was one of the authors of the study.

Suitts added "Pre-K is not all that should be done, but an essential part of what must be done. Pre-K is where the South can finally break this long pattern."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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