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Oregon Expands Early Education Programs At Last Legislative Second

Oregon legislators approved a multi-million-dollar early-learning plan on the last day of that state's legislative session on Monday.

Gov. Kate Brown, a supporter of early-learning investments, is expected to sign one of the signature bills—a $27 million expansion of the state's mixed-delivery preschool program—into law without further debate.

"We know investments early in children's lives continue to pay dividends," said Brown in a statement on the website of early-education advocacy group, The Children's Institute. "Oregon's future is brighter when all Oregon families thrive."

The bill, HB 3380, will open about 2,700 additional subsidized preschool spots to 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families over the next two school years. Currently, "32,000 low-income children in Oregon, or 72 percent of children in families whose income is less than 200 percent of the poverty level, don't have access to high-quality public preschool," a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Education said by email. The expansion will cover 4 percent of those 32,000.

In addition to that expansion, Oregon lawmakers also approved tens of millions of dollars in new investments in full-day kindergarten, which is set to roll out in the fall, as well as for subsidized child care, early-childhood special education, and a school attendance pilot project for schools with large Native American populations, among others.

"Oregon really took a step forward this legislative session to expand early-learning opportunities for children in our state," said Swati Adarkar, President and CEO of the Children's Institute in a statement.

For more details on what steps other states are taking—with especially interesting notes from North Dakota and Alabama—check out my full story that ran earlier this week.

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