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Allies Act on Montana’s Interest in Pre-K — and Send Them to Alabama

With the help of the Alliance for Early Success, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) was able to connect two administrations from across the aisle to discuss how to best advocate for early childhood education.

During a trip to Montana to learn about the education priorities of the Governor, NGA Center staff learned that Governor Bullock and his staff were interested in meeting with the administration from another state, similar to Montana, to learn how it garnered support for preschool and got its program off the ground.

“Montana wanted to learn from a state with a large rural population and a high-quality pre-K program, and the visit to Alabama that the Alliance funded proved to be invaluable,” said Dr. Beth Caron, Program Director, Early Care and Education, NGA. 


“We would have never gotten to the critical details if we didn’t have this much time to spend together.”
Beth Caron
Program Director, Early Care and Education, National Governors Association


The NGA Center arranged for Governor Bullock and two legislators, one Republican and one Democrat, as well as his chief of staff and a preschool provider, to visit Alabama. During their visit, they met with Jeana Ross, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, who helped arrange meetings with legislators, influential business leaders, stakeholders and members of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance (ASRA). Over dinner, they discussed how investing early in children has more impact than trying to remediate issues later on, and how motivating business communities and other stakeholders in Alabama was critical to the successful implementation of their program.

The following day, the group went on two different site visits to see Alabama programs in action, talk to principals and staff, and visit classrooms.

“It was amazing to see senators and governors get down on the floor, play with kids, engage with kids, get a good feel about the school and get a good sense about what a day would look like in a high-quality pre-k program,” said Dr. Caron. “During the site visit, the Montana team asked the hard questions. In doing so, they got a hands-on understanding of how to bring high-quality pre-K to their state, the stakeholders they need to get on board and concrete examples of how it is impacting Alabama.”

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