SHARECOMMENTMORE

WASHINGTON -- State funding for pre-kindergarten programs had its largest drop ever last year and states are now spending less per child than they did a decade ago. That's from a report released Monday by an early education center at Rutgers University.

The report also found that more than a half-million of those preschool students are in programs that don't even meet standards suggested by industry experts that would qualify for federal dollars.

Those findings -- combined with Congress' reluctance to spend new dollars -- complicate President Barack Obama's effort to expand pre-K programs across the country. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are trying to promote the president's proposal, but researchers say existing programs are inadequate and their shortcomings need to be addressed first.