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Private sector leaders from across Alabama call for the state legislature to back Ivey’s $25M pre-k expansion

Dozens of prominent Alabamians have endorsed Governor Kay Ivey’s budget proposal to spend $25 million expanding Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program.

The endorsees are all members of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, which bills itself as “a statewide, nonprofit coalition advocating for the expansion of high-quality, voluntary pre-k.” Many of Alabama’s most respected philanthropic and community leaders are among its members.

Estimates provided by the Alliance say the new funds would provide for 160 new classrooms and enrollment for an additional 2,889 four-year-olds.

“The Alabama School Readiness Alliance’s Pre-K Task Force is pleased that Governor Ivey is once again prioritizing additional funds to add more pre-k classrooms across the state. We stand with Governor Ivey and encourage lawmakers to appropriate the $25 million increase outlined in her proposal,” said Mike Luce and Bob Powers, business leaders and co-chairs of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance Pre-K Task Force.

Luce is the vice-chairman of Harbert Management. Powers is the president of the Eufala Agency.

The pre-k program has a strong argument to be one of Alabama’s most successful public policies. Data from the National Institute for Early Education Research shows the program is one of the three highest quality in the nation.

Alabama’s First Class Pre-K has even won plaudits from places like self-identified liberal magazine Mother Jones, which in writing about the state’s pre-school initiative, said: “Call it the Alabama miracle.”

One of the state’s most highly regarded research groups, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA), found that Alabama’s pre-k initiative “produces significant and meaningful results in academics, attendance, and behavior and that these effects do not fade away as the students age.”

Alabama institutions that can host a First Class Pre-k classroom include: “Public and private schools, child care centers, faith-based centers, Head Start programs, nonprofits, universities, and other community-based providers.”

Any of those that wish to be granted funding by the state has to apply to the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@new-yhn.local or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.