On Monday, March 25, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Richard Perez joined a crowd of more than 50 leaders representing more than 40 organizations at the Texas Capitol to champion permanent funding for full-day, high-quality pre-K across the state. Early childhood education professionals, business representatives, teachers, and law enforcement gathered on the Capitol steps to call on state legislators to stop the “yo-yo” funding of pre-K that has left four-year-old children at an educational disadvantage. The Chamber also took action on the issue earlier this month by joining 55 business leaders in signing a letter to Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick urging the state to invest in full-day pre-K.
“Permanently funding high-quality, full-day pre-K is not a matter important only to educators, the business community gets the data and knows this is a matter of investing in our future workforce,” stated Perez. Scott McClelland, president of the Houston Food/Drug Division at H-E-B, called on the legislature to view it as an investment and not an expense, explaining that for every dollar there is a $3.50 return in earning power for individuals who are set up for academic success early on.
The Texas Commission on School Finance highlighted research showing those who attend high-quality, full-day pre-K are better prepared for kindergarten, score higher on critical third-grade reading and math assessments and are more likely to pursue college after high school. The report points out that 58% of Texas students are not kindergarten ready and 57% of third-graders fall short on assessments.
Currently the state funds voluntary half-day pre-K for students that meet certain criteria, leaving school districts across Texas to use local funds for full-day programming. Despite numerous studies that demonstrate students who attend high-quality, full-day pre-K are better prepared academically, the state has intermittently funded a variety of expansion grants over the past 20 years, with some legislative sessions ending with zero funds.
For more information on high-quality, full-day pre-K visit: https://www.raiseyourhandtexas.org/advocacy/invest/pre-k/
To read the full text of the aforementioned letter click here: Pre-k Letter