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Texas Needs Universal Pre-K Access

May 27, 2016
AccessState & Local
My San Antonio

Funding early childhood education should not be a partisan issue. It’s an investment in the future of the next generation and a crucial component in ensuring the economic growth of our country.

Research shows children who receive early childhood education have better health and education outcomes than their peers who don’t have such access. In the United States, only 4 of 10 children benefit from publicly funded preschool. The numbers are better in Texas, but only 48 percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in pre-K in the 2014-15 school year.

Texas has provided half-day pre-K to a limited number of 4-year-olds since 1985. To qualify, children must be eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, be homeless, be a part of the foster care system, have a parent on active military duty who was injured or killed on active duty, or not be able to speak or comprehend English.

Last year, the number of students in the Texas public school prekindergarten program was down by 6,738 from the previous year, with an enrollment of 219,488 students. The state could be doing so much more to open the doors of opportunity for the state’s youngest residents.