Even as the Texas economy continues to improve, school districts and their students still are suffering from last year’s budget cuts. And, arguably, one of the most shortsighted cuts of all was in funding for prekindergarten programs, which will continue to be battered during the upcoming school year, as the story linked below points out.
PreK is not day care. It is an introduction to the formal classroom for young children and, as such, is a crucial factor in developing strong learning habits for the later elementary and secondary grades that are instrumental in keeping kids in school. PreK is particularly important for children from lowincome families.
Yet, the governor and the legislative majority wiped out a $200 million state grant program that paid for fullday, preK programs. It was part of $5.4 billion in total education funding cuts. Consequently, districts continue to cut back on preK programs. According to a report by the group, Children at Risk, school districts statewide have eliminated more than 1,100 preK teaching positions. That means many children are shut out of preK and many others are in overcrowded classes.
Meanwhile, several billion dollars of taxpayer money remain unspent in the Rainy Day Fund, while groups such as the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) applaud. TPPF, which believes the primary role of government is to promote private profits, advocates for more “private partnerships” in creating preK programs. According to this backwards viewpoint, it doesn’t matter how many children are deprived of a quality, early educational opportunity, as long as some “education entrepreneurs” are able to enrich themselves from tax dollars.