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Recession Hits California’s Schools


California's pre-school programs got a C-minus grade from a national education group. It's likely the recession will hit middle and low-income students harder than others. Eric Niiler reports from Washington.

California has the nation's biggest pre-school program, but doesn't limit class size or require teachers to have degrees. The state missed six of ten benchmarks set by the National Institute for Early Education Research - which puts together the rankings each year.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said pre-k programs curb dropouts and improve children's health.

"If our children hit kindergarten ready to read and ready to learn and their socialization skills in tact and their literacy skills in tact they are going to go on to do great things," he said. "When our children hit kindergarten and don't know the front of the book from the back of the book that's very very tough on that kindergarten teacher those children are very very behind from the start."

The new federal stimulus plan has set aside five billion dollars for pre-school aid. Still, the report predicts California will be forced cut back on state-funded classes because of the budget crunch.

From Capitol News Connection in Washington, I'm Eric Niiler FOR KPBS News.

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