On this rainy Tuesday morning hundreds of child advocates, as well as nearly 600 pre-school children, descended upon the Texas State Capitol to encourage lawmakers to support early childhood education by expanding Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) programs for the youngest and most vulnerable Texans. Pre-K, a state-funded program for four-year-olds, provides free education and free or reduced lunch to those children who live in poverty, who are in the foster care system, who are English-language learners, and whose parents serve in the military. Research shows that children who attend Pre-K programs exhibit the developmental and educational benefits of the program throughout adolescence.
During the 81st Legislative Session, advocates will be pushing for the passage of Senate Bill 21 and House Bill 130 which will give school districts the option of expanding their Pre-K programs to a full day, reduce class sizes by increasing the number of classes, and will require that school districts form partnerships with Head Start programs and/or community child care centers to deliver quality Pre-K programs. TECEC (Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition), the organizer of Pre-K Lobby Day, has worked tirelessly to gain bi-partisan support for this legislation.
Before visiting the Capitol, the Women’s Giving Network/Women’s Leadership Society members attended a networking reception at the Austin Club hosted by the United Ways of Texas and members of United Way of San Antonio/Bexar County. In addition to being briefed on the issue of Pre-K and tips on meeting with legislative representatives, several guests including Speaker of the House Representative Strauss, Representative Patrick, Senator Zaffarini, and Senator Van de Putte addressed the women and thanked them for their hard work on behalf of Texas’ children. In a special act of gratitude the Senate passed a resolution honoring the work of these women during their session today.
Watch a brief video clip of the day from the Austin American Statesman:
If you were unable to attend any of today’s activities, there will be plenty of early childhood education advocacy opportunities in the upcoming months–be sure to subscribe to our e-newsletter to stay informed!