Missouri Finishes Last In Federal Preschool Grant Competition
Missouri has fallen short in a bid for federal preschool dollars.
But last week's news gets worse for advocates of early childhood education – Missouri’s application finished dead last in the nine-state competition.
Sarah Potter, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, says Missouri’s application for preschool development money didn’t do enough to address students with special needs.
But she also thinks a two-year old state law hurt Missouri’s chances.
“We’re actually prohibited from showing that these programs benefit the taxpayers and the kids in the program because we can’t actually do a quality ratings system,” says Potter.
Potter says Missouri is the only state to ban a preschool ratings system, which are used elsewhere to distinguish high quality early childhood education programs from child care.
Elsewhere, such systems are used to determine which preschools meet minimum quality standards to receive extra funding.
"Can we look at this information and determine these kids are being well-served?" says Potter. "We're hampered because we don't have that quality ratings system, unfortunately."