Pre-K in Texas - In the Hands of the Legislature
The 84th Texas Legislature starts on January 13, 2015. So far, there have been 137 bills filed that are related to education and 7 were for Pre-K. How many, if any, will reach the floor is anybody’s guess. As Fox26’s Greg Groogan reported in December, a Pre-K funding bill will face a ‘strong head wind’ according to State Senator Elect Paul Bettancourt.
Pre-K funding was cut by $5.4 billion in 2011. School Districts faced with growing fiscal crisis, some with already poor funding, and increasing populations, either drastically cut back Pre-K, or ended it entirely. Moves that are drastically unfair to our best resource, the students of this state.
Studies have shown the benefits of Pre-K. According to a study reported in the Teachers College Report in 2010, children who participated in their state funded preschool program showed an annual growth of 31% in vocabulary skills, 44% in math skills and 85% in early literacy skills as compared to children not enrolled.
Raise Your Hand Texas recently shared how Texas Pre-K program stacked up against the Elements of Effective State Pre-K Programs:
|From Raise Your Hands Texas - a non-profit catalyst advancing public education by igniting fiercely innovative leadership and advocacy for millions of students across the state.|
The chart shows the program as it stands needs significant improvement and with a Legislature more interested in cutting funding for tax relief than funding anything, there remains a specter of continued cuts.
It will take a continued effort by citizens of the state to let the 84th Texas Legislature know that we are watching and will not tolerate more harm to a program with proven results. In our corner are several legislators including Rep. Sergio Munoz, Jr from the Rio Grande Valley who is trying to restore funding. We need this and more. We need Texas’ program to match up to the successful elements of best practices.