Here’s A Preview Of Education Issues Texas Lawmakers Could Tackle This Session

The 2017 Legislative session kicks off next week.

By Stella M. ChávezJanuary 3, 2017 11:40 am, , , ,

From KERA News

Pre-K was at the top of the Legislative agenda two years ago when Gov. Greg Abbott pushed a plan to give districts and charter schools $118 million in grants.

Early childhood advocates like Libby McCabe wants to keep pre-K on the front burner. McCabe is director of advocacy at the education nonprofit Commit! Partnership in Dallas.

“We want high-quality full day pre-K, but we know that given the current budget and the political climate that that’s a real long shot,” McCabe said. “And so while we want to keep talking about it and keep the pressure on, our number one priority is to continue the high-quality pre-K grant funding that was the Governor’s number one legislative priority last session.”

The state funds half day pre-K for low-income students. Some districts like San Antonio and Fort Worth offer full-day pre-K.

McCabe said pre-K pays off and points to research that shows Dallas kids in pre-K are twice as likely to be kindergarten-ready than other students. And if you’re kindergarten ready, she said, you’re three times more likely to be reading on grade level by third grade.

“Reading on grade level is really the Holy Grail because in third grade there’s a major shift in school, from learning to read to reading to learn,” McCabe said. “And so if you aren’t a proficient reader by third grade, you’re four times more likely to drop out.”

When lawmakers meet in Austin, one sure buzzword will be “school choice.” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been a vocal advocate.

“What right do we have to tell a poor parent where their child is sentenced to a failing school year after year after year that they must send their child to that school?” Patrick said in an interview with The Texas Tribune.

If President-Elect Donald Trump has his way, the country’s next education secretary will be a vocal school choice advocate – Betsy DeVos.

All that worries Bob Sanborn of the nonprofit Children at Risk. He sees “school choice” as code words for vouchers that would let parents use tax dollars to enroll their kids in public or private school.”

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