President Obama visited a preschool in Decatur, Ga on Thursday to highlight the success of Georgia's Pre-K program. The Pre-K program and HOPE scholarship programs are funded by the lottery. The truth about these programs is that Republicans would like nothing more that to be rid of these programs that were started by former Democratic Governor Zell Miller.
The Republicans have been tinkering with these programs for years. The popular program serves 84 thousand students. In 2011 Republican Governor Deal proposed $20 million in cuts to the pre-k program. Cutting the school hours and days while increasing class sizes have been part of their plans. This program is open to all 4 year old children in Georgia.
HOPE funding awarded to students is being reduced. Governor Deal cut funding and is still looking for ways to cut more. What once covered 100% of costs now covers 90% and no longer covers books or fees. This is happening while tuition costs are rising and many are returning to school because of economic challenges. More restrictive eligibility requirements have been implemented. More than 256,000 students received HOPE last year, while fewer than 200,000 received it a decade ago according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Margaret DeFrancisco, CEO of the Georgia Lottery. The monies are going largely to students in urban areas and more expensive schools, and not rural areas and less expensive schools. Democratic Senators Jason Carter D-Decatur, Freddie Powell Sims D-Albany, and Lester Jackson D-Savannah are among those on a Task Force on Education looking to improve the educational system look at ways to fully fund pre-k and higher education in GA.