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Rural Oklahoma's Pre-K Program Seen as Model for States

Rural Oklahoma has developed a model universal pre-kindergarten program for serving a high percentage of students while offering a quality program, according to The American Prospect.

The endorsement comes from a new article published in the liberal political magazine based in Washington.

Oklahoma is ranked No. 2 nationally for the access it gives to 4-year-olds—it serves 74 percent of those children—and it's No. 9 in terms of the resources it spends on pre-kindergarten children, according to the State of Preschool report by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The state that has the highest percentage of 4-year-olds in pre-k, Florida, is rated far worse, 39th, in terms of resources spent on the program, which the magazine asserts is an indication of a lower-quality of program.

The article describes how a rural, conservative state such as Oklahoma has become a national leader in pre-kindergarten, and it describes the political challenges in expanding federal early-childhood education funding.

The story also explains why Oklahoma's rural schools, in particular, say this program has been critical; it's helped them enroll more students and stay open in spite of declining populations and budgets.

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