Georgia governor wants to restore half of the 20 pre-K days cut last year

Last year’s cut of 20 days from the pre-kindergarten calendar had a predictable result: the retention rate for pre-K teachers fell markedly.

So this year’s pre-K students are getting 20 fewer class days, and those days are being managed by an unusually high number of teachers who are new to that school or even to the profession.

From the AJC’s Deal: State needs to add back 10 pre-k days:

Gov. Nathan Deal will propose reinstating 10 of 20 days that were removed from the current pre-k year, said Erin Hames, Deal’s deputy chief of staff for policy.

The longer school year — 170 days — will result in a 4.4 percent pay raise for pre-k teachers, Hames said.
[. . .]

Last year, Deal suggested cutting the nationally lauded pre-k program from a full day to half day as part of a plan to ensure the long-term future of it and the popular HOPE scholarship program. Both programs are funded by slowing lottery revenues.

After a public outcry, Deal recommended, and the legislature approved, shortening the pre-k school year from 180 to 160 days, and adding two students to each pre-k class. Teachers immediately left the program, providers said.
[. . .]

After the shorter school year and related pay cuts were approved, the retention rate for all pre-k teachers went from 81 percent to 75 percent. More dramatic was the turnover of pre-k teachers who work in public schools, with their retention rate falling from 87 percent to 64 percent, according to statistics compiled by Cagle’s office.

It is absolutely critical that Georgia invest more in education. Cuts to pre-K not only harmed children’s educations, but they sent a terrible signal to companies that are considering doing business in the state.