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Education News

Report: State of Pre-K in Texas is ‘State of Concern’

Texas ranks 30 out of 41 states in early education funding.

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The state of Texas ranks ninth in the country for how many of all its four-year-olds attend prekindergarten.

But in terms of funding early education, Texas ranks number 30 out of 41 states.

Texas spends about $3,300 for every pre-K student. That’s slightly up from a record low in 2012.

“I’d say the state of pre-K in Texas is a state of concern. For kids and families, one might even say a state of emergency,” said Steve Barnett with the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers.

He says prekindergarten is especially important for children from low-income families or who don’t speak English at home.

What Barnett says is even more troubling is the poor quality of prekindergarten in Texas.

“Texas doesn’t require that all of the teachers have a four-year degree or have special training in early childhood (education),” he said. “There are no limits on class size, so you can have 40 four-year-olds with one teacher.”

Here in Houston, advocates tried to improve the quality of early childhood education last year with a new county property tax.

But their proposal – backed by thousands of signatures – never made the ballot. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett questioned the petition’s legal standing and blocked it.

But Barnett says it’s a good sign for prekindergarten in Texas that both candidates for governor are making early education part of their campaign.

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