Raimondo makes her case for pre-K investment

    A day after the State of the State, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo makes the case for investing in pre-K. (WJAR)

    If school can start for 4-year-olds in the year before kindergarten, Gov. Gina Raimondo said the benefits will be valuable.

    “It is a fact, proven over and over again, that investment in pre-K means kids do better in school. They graduate high school at a higher rate. They get good jobs and and they commit fewer crimes,” she said Wednesday during a news conference at the Nathanael Greene Elementary School in Pawtucket.

    Those results mean less money spent on remedial programs or on criminals.

    Pawtucket is part of a pilot program of pre-K offerings in the state and has 300 children on a wait list to get into a program that serves about 300 students now.

    Superintendent Patti DiCenso said the results from the program are most obvious to the kindergarten teachers.

    “Our kindergarten teachers, who are our boots on the ground, when they see the kindergarten readiness immediately.”

    Mark Shriver, of Save The Children Action Network, said research proves what the teachers see.

    “The science shows that brain growth, 90 of brain growth, happens in the first five years of life, yet as a society we don’t invest. We have investment flat until children enter kindergarten relatively speaking,” Shriver said at the news conference.

    Raimondo is proposing a $10 million investment this year to increase the number of seats in pre-K by 500 students. Then, she would add another $10 million each year until it's available for every student who wants it.

    She said economists have figured the state saves $9 for every $1 invested in pre-K.

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