As of March 9, 2015, the Texas Legislature has money to burn. The Texas treasury is overflowing! Lieutenant Patrick has so much money he wants to start giving property tax reductions. Now, of course, we all like tax breaks. My fear is that Patrick’s intentions are premature. At this time, we do not have budget priorities for areas of education, transportation, water, other infrastructure, health, or childcare. It is especially worrisome knowing that tax deductions will come from property taxes designated for education. One of my greatest concerns is that we will not fund needed changes and expansion of pre-kindergarten.
Research from The Center for Public Education states, “Pre-K is a gift that keeps on giving.” A 2015 federal report called “The Economics of Early Childhood Investments” states the following benefits to children:
Cognitive functions are more flexible and have a greater capacity for change during the early, developmental years.
The cognitive changes made in formative years last the remainder of the child’s life (Knudsen, 2006).
IQ can be increased by environment and education during early years.
A 2015 study from the Bush School of Government at A&M suggests the following reasons to fund pre-k:
Every dollar spent for public school pre-K or Head Start could provide a return of $3.50. (The national estimate is a return of $8.00 for each dollar spent.)
A child’s brain “grows to roughly 90% of its full capacity in the first five years.” (Trying to “catch up” later is almost impossible.)
Children who participate in pre-k tend to attend school on a regular basis, experience fewer failures, and receive fewer referrals for special education. These school gains result in a reduction in dropouts and criminal activity.
According to the study from A&M, Texas’ funding per child is below the national average and we need to spend an additional $71 million dollars each year to match the national average. I am convinced that we can pay now or pay later through special education, failures, and prison costs.