For Immediate Release
Contact: Peter Clark, 512-473-2274
AUSTIN - Today 56 Texas business leaders sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and the members of the Texas Legislature urging them to “support an investment in early childhood education, which specifically includes investments in full-day prekindergarten.” The letter from leaders of several Chambers of Commerce, H-E-B, PNC Bank, IBM, and other businesses comes after top lawmakers in the Texas House and Senate filed school finance bills to fund full-day pre-k.
“We’re thrilled to see that the school finance bills invest in full-day pre-k. Now we just need to make sure that the Legislature gets this pre-k funding over the finish line,” said John Cullen, one of the business leaders who signed the letter. Cullen, a Partner at Capstar Partners and member of Early Matters of Greater Austin, explained, “In business we’ve always looked for investment opportunities with potential for great returns. When we provide kids with high-quality full-day pre-k so they can start kindergarten ready to learn, we get a great return on our investment and the kids get the start they deserve.”
Texas currently provides school districts with funding to offer voluntary half-day (three-hour) pre-k to four-year-olds who are learning English, come from low-income families, or meet other eligibility criteria. Because full-day (six-hour) pre-k is more effective for kids and offers a schedule that allows more working parents to enroll their eligible children, many school districts draw on local funding to provide a full-day program.
The school finance bills under consideration this legislative session — HB 3 by House Public Education Committee Chair Dan Huberty and SB 4 by Senate Education Committee Chair Larry Taylor — would provide school districts with funding to offer full-day pre-k to currently eligible children.
“Texas has a chance to ensure that every child is prepared for both school and life on the first day of kindergarten versus starting off behind their classmates and struggling to catch up,” said Amber Scanlan, PNC client and community relations director for Dallas-Ft. Worth, member of the Texans Care for Children board of directors, and one of the signatories of the letter. “Texas businesses understand that investing in full-day pre-k is critical to ensuring we’ve thoroughly prepared our children for the workforce, ensuring our state’s continued prosperity for years to come.”
The letter notes, “Currently, Texas children are falling behind their peers in other states and countries….The good news is that research tells us that early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make to change this trajectory. As the School Finance Commission stated, ‘research shows that children who attend high-quality pre-k programs are more likely to be kindergarten ready, to earn higher scores on third-grade reading and mathematics assessment tests, and ultimately, to graduate from high school on time and enroll in college.’”
The letter goes on to say, “With school finance reform at the top of the agenda this session, now is the time for Texas leaders to invest in early childhood education, including high-quality, full-day pre-k.”