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Arizona ranks low in preschool attendance

PHOENIX — There are apparently a lot of empty chairs in preschools in Arizona.

The president of the Children’s Action Alliance, Dana Naimark, told a woman’s conference in Phoenix this week that statistics from the Anne E. Casey Foundation are not good news.

“In Arizona, 67 percent of three and 4-year-old children do not attend preschool,” Naimark said. “That’s more than two-thirds. That compares nationwide to 54 percent. We are the third-worst state in the country.”

Only Nevada and Idaho were worse.

Naimark says the low attendance figures mean that Arizona kids are being hurt.

“We’re leaving kids out of a great opportunity for educational success,” she said. She also told the group that kids who attend preschool get off to a good start to their education and that could help them in school in later years.

“Quality preschool actually improves children’s educational success and gets them ready for kindergarten and ready to learn and succeed,” she said. “Unfortunately, we’re really lacking in that area.”

Naimark said that one reason that so few kids in Arizona go to preschool is that their parents can’t afford to pay for it. She would like to see more state and federal funding directed to help parents with preschool costs.