After four years of deliberations, ten community conversations across the state, and almost 11,500 survey responses from Texans, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) has adopted a Long-Range Plan for Public Education, including an endorsement and call to action for Texas legislators to provide formula funding for full-day pre-k.
The SBOE Long-Range Plan for Public Education includes this vision statement:
“Quality early learning programs through third grade, including formula-funded full-day prekindergarten, will be fully funded, supported, and recognized as the building blocks to future academic and social success, including the goal of reading and math on grade-level by third grade.”
To achieve this vision, the SBOE includes the following recommendation:
“the legislature will expand high-quality early learning opportunities for children, including formula-funded full-day prekindergarten that further the goal of closing any gaps in educational proficiency by third grade.”
If the Legislature follows this recommendation and vision statement, it would mark a significant shift in state priorities. Texas pre-k is funded through the Foundation School Program, the formal name of the formulas that determine the funding for public school districts and charter schools for operations and facilities. Through this financing, only a half-day of pre-k is funded by the state. If districts choose to operate full-day programs, they currently must supplement resources from other operating funds. Despite a growing consensus that the state needs to fund full-day pre-k, the Legislature took a step backwards in 2017, eliminating funding for the brand new pre-k grant program as well as $30 million in supplemental pre-k funding.
Research clearly shows that full-day pre-k programs have the greatest impact on children’s school readiness and longer-term success. Full-day programs also provide quality early education opportunities for working families whose schedules cannot accommodate half-day programs.
We thank the 18-member steering member committee which included State Board members, local school board members, administrators, parents, business representatives, students, professors, and representatives of the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Workforce Commission and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for this bold new vision for Texas kids.
We urge the Legislature to follow their lead and take action in the 86th Legislative Session to support formula funding for full-day pre-k so that districts can offer full-day programs for eligible and interested families.