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Upjohn Institute economist discusses proposed increase in funding early childhood education

The Associated Press

Governor Snyder has proposed investing $130-million in early childhood education over the next two years. 


Upjohn Institute Economist Tim Bartik has studied the economic impact of early childhood education and wrote a book, published in 2011, about its role in economic development. (Bartik has continued a blog on the topic). He also discussed his research as at a TEDx Conference at Miami University in Ohio. 

Bartik told WMUK's Gordon Evans that the governor's proposal is "a significant step forward." But he says it's only about half-way to universal access to pre-school for all children. 

Snyder's proposal calls for paying for additional early childhood education out of Michigan's School Aid Fund. Bartik says high quality pre-school is needed to create a quality workforce. But he says the investment should continue with K-12 education.

Bartik says the governor's proposal moves Michigan from having about 20% of all four-year olds in the "Great Start" program to about 40%. But he says the leading states have more than 70% of young children in a state pre-school program.  

The amount per student will go up from $3,400 to $3,625 for a half-day slot in pre-schools. But Barik says a high-quality half-day slot costs about $4,500. He says that will leave school districts will have to subsidize high quality pre-school. 

Bartik says despite his criticism of how it's being done, it is a "big step forward" for early childhood education. Bartik says he hopes it's only the first step toward expanding access to pre-school. 

The Detroit Free Press reports on reaction from educators to the govenror's proposal. 

MLive Kalamazoo reports that Kalamazoo area lawmakers of both parties welcomed the news. Democratic Representative Sean McCann of Kalamazoo and Republicans Margaret O'Brien who represents Portage in the House and Tonya Schuitmaker whose state Senate district includes all of Kalamazoo and parts of Van Buren County commented while at a conference on education hosted by the Center for Michigan. The Center's Bridge Magazine also has a look at early childhood education. 

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.