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For the First Time, Mississippi Will Fund Pre-K

By Paul Boger | Published 20 Dec 2013 08:30am | comments

For the first time in Mississippi's history, the state will provide funding forpre-k educational programs. 

The Board of Education awardedgrants to eleven pre-k programs part of the state's Early Learning CollaborativeAct.It's a program that provides early education funding to communities that have shown both a need for financing, and also a willingness to work other organizations like Head Start or non-profits.

Kim Benton helped select the eleven programs. She says children enrolled in pre-k programs do better in the long run.

"They perform better in school." said Benton. "There's less retention. They're more likely to graduate.  Not just graduate, but graduate with those skills necessary for greater success.

While only 11 programs were chosen, new State Superintendent Carey Wright believes the state should do more to help programs were not selected to receive grants.

"I think we also need to be doing what we can to help improve the quality of programming that's going on out there even if they're not falling under one of the grant collaboratives." said Wright. "I think there are ways we can reach out and help the folks who are providing that kind of service anyway.

State Senator Brice Wiggins, co-authored the bill that created the E-L-C, He believes the program is the best bang for its buck.

"They get the foundation, they get the social skills, plus they get the education benefits that are there." said Wiggins. "In terms of return on investment, the money can't be better spent because the brain science has shown children's brains develop better and faster and can absorb more at that age than once you get past that age."

The Early Learning Collaborative Act was signed into law last spring and will provide up to 3 million dollars in funding to pre-k programs.

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