Texas Considering Universal Pre-K

Blog / May 6, 2009

Via the Texas Insider:

The Texas House recently got a first reading of House Bill 130, authored by Reps. Patrick, Eissler, Anchia, Pitts and Thompson.  HB 130 calls for “an enhanced full-day kindergarten program provided by public school districts in conjunction with community providers.”  A companion bill, SB 21, has been filed in the Senate by Zaffirini. 

The Austin American Statesman reported that HB 130 will cost an additional $390 million in Fiscal Year 2010-2011, to increase to $584.7 million in Fiscal Year 2012-13.  The bill requires that full-day pre-k programs be offered and also stipulates a partnership with Head Start and private providers, as well as class-size limits, teacher certification and an approved curriculum.

A 2006 study by the Texas Public Policy Foundation reported that approximately 50% of four-year-olds participate in a state-funded pre-k or special education program, 11% participate in Head Start and 35% attend a private pre-k program.  The report went on to add that a 2005 study by Stanford-UC Berkeley showed that center-based preschool has a negative effect on social skills, particularly for low-income students.

In a March 2009 report for ABC’s 20/20 John Stossel said that “The government thinks it can do a better job [with a universal pre-k program], but don’t they have enough problems running K-12 education? ”

While Stossel’s report focused on using federal aid to fund a universal pre-k program, the logic applies just as well to Texas education.

And from TPPF:

House Bill 130, which represents a massive expansion of pre-kindergarten programs statewide, is on the House calendar and could be debated later today.  The new grant program for full-day pre-kindergarten created by this bill would cost taxpayers an additional $390 million during the 2010-11 biennium, and almost $1.3 billion over the next five years.