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This Deep-Red State Decided to Make a Serious Investment in Preschools. It’s Paying Off Big-Time.

By Kiera Butler ~ Mother Jones ~ 

Call it the Alabama miracle

Alabama state senator Trip Pittman had always sort of questioned whether nursery schools were worth the investment. Pittman, a conservative Republican, figured the kinds of things you’re supposed to learn before kindergarten—washing your hands, tying your shoes, minding your manners—might best be taught by parents and grandparents at home. Conservatives often argue that kids who attend preschool fare no better than those who don’t. So in 2013, when a proposal came before the Legislature to expand a state preschool program for four-year-olds, Pittman was on the fence.

The folks from the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, a group backing the proposal, were persistent, though. They were sure they could win the senator over if only he would come see the program in action, and so one day he did. Pittman visited a preschool in Prichard, a small, long-struggling city near Mobile, and came away captivated. “I watched the interaction between the teachers and the students,” he recalls. “It seemed remarkable, the fact that you could assimilate children into a classroom environment—raising their hands, going down the hall, being inquisitive. It was really impressive the way the teachers interacted with kids.”

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