“We know this is a strong investment in our state’s future,” said Governor Bullock. “Now is the time Montana finally makes investments into the success of our kids through publicly funded early childhood education.”
The “Rally for Montana’s Future Superheroes” featured Governor Bullock’s proposal for $12 million in grants to allow school districts, Head Start programs, and high-quality preschool providers to offer preschool for four-year-old kids at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Representative Kathy Kelker who is sponsoring the legislation, House Bill 563, also spoke at the rally.
“Preschool prepares our students for success in school and in life,” said Rep. Kelker. “Despite the overwhelming evidence to support investments in early childhood education, Montana has lagged behind most other states in providing high quality preschool.”
Jeana Ross, Secretary for the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, spent the day at the Montana State Capitol on behalf of Republican Governor Robert Bentley to meet with lawmakers in support of Governor Bullock’s preschool grant program proposal.
“This is not a partisan issue elsewhere in the country. Other states – some of the reddest of red states like Alabama – have recognized the value of high-quality early childhood education,” Governor Bullock said of the visit. “Their states are better off for investing in their kids. Thank you to Secretary Ross for showing us how it’s done.”
Alabama has had state-funded preschool for four-year-olds since 2000, known as First Class. Similar to Governor Bullock’s proposal, a variety of providers are eligible to apply for competitive First Class grants. Alabama’s First Class program is considered to be very high-quality.
Montana is currently one of only six states without a publicly funded pre-kindergarten option for four-year-olds.