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Texas needs universal pre-K

February 29, 2016
AccessGovernance and AccountabilityOutcomesState & LocalUniversal and Targeted
Helen Giddings

Over the course of last year’s legislative session, I was proud to see quality pre-K improvements thrust into the spotlight as a bipartisan priority. Through emotional and sometimes heated debate, we were able to approve House Bill 4, a grant program of $130 million to Texas schools, in an effort to bolster existing pre-K programs. Although many of us argued this did not go far enough, it became clear that this was the best solution that the majority would embrace, and it passed with a 129-18 vote. It remains significant that we came together to create a new program to invest in kids across Texas.

Unfortunately, this victory was not nearly enough.

Although I am excited to see how districts take advantage of the grants, our kids demand a far bolder change of course.
Last year, the National Institute for Early Education Research released a study showing that Texas ranks dead last in the country in delivering quality pre-K. In the 10 policies of its quality standards checklist, Texas met only two — for teacher in-service and early learning standards. In areas from class size to teacher specialization, we continue to fall woefully short.