The Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition and United Ways of Texas today received national recognition as 2009 Pre-K Champions from Pre-K Now, a campaign of the Pew Center on the States. The groups were honored at a Capitol Hill event celebrating their successful efforts to improve the availability and quality of voluntary pre-kindergarten for Texas children and families.
“The Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition and United Ways of Texas worked hard on behalf of their state's youngest learners and made significant strides forward during an incredibly difficult budget year,” said Marci Young, the project director of Pre-K Now. “Together, they helped secure bipartisan legislative support for one of the biggest early education funding increases in the nation as well as reforms to raise quality in Texas's pre-k classrooms.”
Thanks to the focused advocacy effort of early learning supporters, lawmakers approved an additional $25 million to expand the Public School Prekindergarten program. The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University found that every $1 spent on high-quality pre-k returns at least $3.50 to the state in savings and increased revenue.
Provisions that would have tied the new dollars to program quality standards, including research-based class sizes and teacher-child ratio, also passed the legislature with strong backing but were vetoed by Governor Rick Perry. Texas remains one of only a few states without limits on class size and teacher-child ratio.
“Texas advocates have developed innovative strategies to move pre-k policy, from linking funds with higher quality standards to expanding eligibility to new groups such as military families and children in foster care,” said Young. “The result is broad agreement among state policy and business leaders that one of the best ways to strengthen the economy is to build human capital – starting with children and the quality programs that prepare them to succeed in school and contribute to their communities.”