Working with you and our other supporters and partners, we've had several great victories for kids this year and in recent years.
But today we are celebrating one of the biggest victories for Texas kids in recent memory: Governor Abbott just signed HB 3, the school finance bill that funds full-day pre-k.
As you know, until now the state has funded half-day (three-hour) pre-k. Under HB 3, the state will now provide funding for full-day (six-hour) pre-k. (The state eligibility requirements will remain the same.)
As a result of the new pre-k funding and other early education provisions in HB 3, more children will start kindergarten with the academic skills — and perhaps more importantly, the social and emotional tools — they need to succeed. They will be stronger readers by third grade and more successful throughout their academic career.
Yes, there is much more work to do on early childhood education in Texas.
We must establish basic limits on pre-k class sizes and student-teacher ratios. We need to ensure that there is a long-term funding source for the education investments in HB 3. And we need to strengthen our policies and programs — in areas ranging from child care to maternal health to children's health coverage — that partner with parents to shape the foundational experiences of even younger children.
Yet, the full-day pre-k funding in HB 3 is clearly a big step forward.
But let's be clear: They are not the only ones who made this happen.
This victory was possible because, year after year, so many of you have advocated for pre-k, educated our state leaders and other Texans about the critical importance of the first few years of a child's life, and fought for policies that help children in our state succeed.
So as we celebrate and thank our state leaders, I also want to thank you and encourage you to keep fighting.
Sometimes it takes an extra year or even an extra decade to accomplish our goals, but if we stick together and keep fighting, we will prevail — and the future will be brighter for all Texas children.