06/16/2011 - The 82nd Legislature delivered a fatal whack to state grants for full-day pre-kindergarten. But some public schools are refusing to let the budgetary machete finish off their early-childhood programs, choosing instead to charge tuition.
The state offers half-day pre-K for children who cannot speak English or are from homeless, low-income, foster or military families. That remains fully financed in the budget, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Many districts opt to expand this standard half-day to a full-day program, which studies say increases the benefits of early-childhood learning, making students less likely to drop out, repeat grades or need remedial course work. Last biennium, the state awarded about $208 million in grants to support full-day programs. In the 2012-13 budget, that money is completely eliminated.
Albert Wat, a project manager for Pre-K Now, a campaign of the Pew Center on the States, cautioned against that, saying parents can be “caught between a rock and a hard place” when faced with paying for early education. “Just because families are doing it,” he said, “policymakers shouldn’t assume they can afford to do it.”
Read the full article Maintaining Pre-K Day, via Tuition on The New York Times' Web site.