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Republicans, Democrats Share Universal Pre-K Goal, Differ On How To Get There

Increasing access to preschool may have bipartisan support in Frankfort, but questions about funding and role of private pre-K education providers could split the parties if the issue comes up during the 2015 legislative session.

During a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Legislative Preview conference Monday in Lexington, Democratic Rep. Kelly Flood made it clear where she stands.

"My commitment is for universal pre-school education free. That's where I think we need to go. Everything tells us now that if we invest in every child the earlier we do the chances of their ability to thrive by third grade are radically changed," she said.

While supportive of the idea, Republican Sen. David Givens cautioned against minimizing the role of private and faith-based pre-K education providers.

"A lot of the legislative efforts to get money from the federal government to do a public, fully funded, full day, total early childhood wraparound... a lot of that federal money has strings that are going to require the carving down or totally carving out of the most excellent private opportunities children certainly have now," Givens argued.

Though Kentucky hasn’t made major strides toward universal pre-K, the state did take home a $44M dollar federal Race to the Top grant to improve early learning programs in 2013.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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