Clinton proposing pre-kingergarten program for all 4-year-olds
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is proposing a $10 billion federal program aimed at providing voluntary pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-old children in America.

"I want every 4-year-old regardless of parental income to have access to high quality pre-K because it not only enhances their academic preparation, they stay in school longer, they have fewer behavioral problems," the New York senator and former first lady said.

Clinton said she would pay for the program by closing tax loopholes and eliminating Bush administration programs she disagrees with.

"There is a lot of evidence that this saves money over the long run and
economists and others have validated what experts in early childhood
education have told us for a long time," Clinton told NBC's "Today Show."

Clinton planned to present the proposal at an appearance Monday at North
Beach Elementary School in Miami Beach, Fla.

Her campaign staff issued an outline of the plan in Washington.

It would provide federal funds to states that agree to establish a plan for
making voluntary pre-kingergarten services universally available for all

They would be required to provide services at no cost to children from
low-income families and those from "limited English homes."

The campaign said state spending on pre-kingergarten has increased by $1
billion in the last two years, yet the programs still serve less than 20
percent of 4-year-olds in the U.S.

Under the Clinton plan, states would match federal funds made available to
them dollar-for-dollar and could use the assistance to expand their existing
Head Start programs.

"The federal government will allocate $5 billion in the first year to states
to establish and administer universal Pre-K," the campaign fact sheet said.
"Over the next five years, the federal commitment will increase to $10
billion as states increase their commitment to Pre-K."

To qualify for federal funds, states would have to hire teachers with
bachelor's degrees and specialized training in early childhood development
and also meet other standards, such as low teacher-child ratios.

"If states have achieved these quality benchmarks, they will be able to use
the funds flexibly to meet the needs of their local communities," the
campaign said. "They could serve younger children; raise teachers' salaries;
provide additional support and training for teachers or engage in other
activities that expand and improve their pre-K programs."

The federal funds would be allocated through state governors.