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Georgia Pre-k

Barnaby Wasson via Flickr / http://www.flickr.com/photos/barnabywasson/279913090/

A new report from the National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) concludes that Georgia does a good job educating the state’s four-year-olds, but there’s room for improvement.

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Tony Bennett, right, lead teacher at the Sheltering Arms, an early education and family center in Atlanta, Ga. works with a group of Pre-K students Thursday, May 10, 2007. A study released by the Southern Education Foundation reported that the South is le
Gene Blythe / Associated Press

The Georgia lottery provides money for about 84,000 4 year olds to attend the state’s pre-kindergarten program. But only 81,000 children are served, due to a lack of space.

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Tony Bennett, right, lead teacher at the Sheltering Arms, an early education and family center in Atlanta, Ga. works with a group of Pre-K students Thursday, May 10, 2007. A study released by the Southern Education Foundation reported that the South is le
Gene Blythe / Associated Press

Georgia’s Head Start program does a good job, but could be even better with more money, according to a report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). Head Start is a federally-funded child development program for low-income families.

NIEER director Steve Barnett says Georgia’s program provides strong social and emotional support to kids, but falls short in other areas. He says teachers’ salaries are low, which affects instruction.

Gene Blythe / Associated Press

Georgia's early education teachers needs a raise. That’s one of the findings of a new report from the University of California at Berkeley.

The Early Childhood Workforce Index says most states don’t pay early education teachers well enough. Megan Gunnar, a professor of childhood development at the University of Minnesota, helped develop the index. She says it takes strong teachers to work with kids under the age of five.

Tony Bennett, right, lead teacher at the Sheltering Arms, an early education and family center in Atlanta, Ga. works with a group of Pre-K students Thursday, May 10, 2007. A study released by the Southern Education Foundation reported that the South is le
Gene Blythe / Associated Press

A new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) says enrollment and funding for Georgia’s pre-kindergarten program have dropped. The study also says class sizes are too high, teacher pay is too low and Georgia doesn’t offer enough support for dual language learners.

The study shows Georgia’s Pre-K program enrolled more than 1,000 fewer children during the 2014-15 school year than it did the year before.

U.S. Department of Education

Starting Monday, leaders from around the state will participate in “Georgia Pre-K Week” by visiting classrooms and reading to children. The idea is to draw attention to early education programs.

“We can talk about our standards and our program and the great results the program gets and the children receive as a result of the program,” says Amy Jacobs, commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning, which oversees Georgia Pre-K Week. “But I think there’s nothing better than seeing it and actually interacting with the teachers and the students.”

Gene Blythe / Associated Press

DeKalb County’s pre-kindergarten teachers will soon get a big pay bump. Under a new plan set to take effect in January, the district will pay pre-K teachers on a regular teacher salary scale. That’s rare in Georgia.

DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Stephen Green said the increase is overdue.

“I have a profound appreciation for the impact [pre-K teachers] have on our young people in terms of their social/emotional development, but also how that carries over into their academic performance and gives them that sound and important good first start,” he said.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal delivers his budget address at the state Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, in Atlanta. Deal spoke Thursday afternoon to lawmakers charged with reviewing his $45 billion spending plan. Deal limited his comments Thursday to criminal
David Goldman / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal said he wants to spend $50 million to reverse cuts to Georgia's pre-kindergarten program that increased class sizes and cut teacher pay.

The Republican governor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the specifics are still in the works.

"We all know the statistics indicate a good pre-k program is the best starting point we can have for children in schools," Deal said. "Class size and teacher compensation are critical components for being able to have an effective and responsible pre-k program."

Tony Bennett, right, lead teacher at the Sheltering Arms, an early education and family center in Atlanta, Ga. works with a group of Pre-K students Thursday, May 10, 2007. A study released by the Southern Education Foundation reported that the South is le
Gene Blythe / Associated Press

Georgia's Pre-K Program will welcome 84,000 4-year-olds this school year.

Officials say the voluntary program, which is beginning its 23rd year, has been recognized as one of the top programs in the nation based on quality standards, teacher qualifications and enrollment.

Any age-eligible child residing in the state may attend the program regardless of family income.

Martha Dalton / WABE

It’s pre-kindergarten week in Georgia. 84,000 four-year-olds are enrolled in the statewide, public pre-k program. But there are still 7,000 children on waiting lists.

Officials with Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning say there are pre-k slots available. Spokesperson Reg Griffin says parents may have an easier time finding one if they’re willing to look outside their neighborhoods.