Preschoolers are feeling the pinch.
In fact, from 2010-11, funding for government-subsidized pre-kindergarten programs dropped by almost $60 million. And, from 2001 to 2011, spending per child plummeted nationwide by more than $700.
In California, the picture for early education has grown more bleak. During the 2011-12 budget cycle, California sliced its preschool funding by $70 million. Now, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to reduce funding by $180 million, or 23 percent.
Currently, California's state preschools are under-performing. They meet just three of the required benchmarks on the State of Preschool report's quality checklist, which includes low student-teacher ratios, curriculum standards and staff qualifications and training.
The U.S. Secretary of Education is urging policymakers not to sacrifice the quality of their programs. She said glorified baby-sitting is not the way to go.
Education experts say the goal of state preschool programs is to prepare children to excel socially, emotionally and academically in kindergarten and beyond.