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TAB says it wants better pre-K in Texas

I have three things to say about this.

pre-k

The Texas Association of Business wants the state to offer a full school day of taxpayer-funded pre-K and plans to push lawmakers in that direction next year, the group announced this week.

TAB board members voted unanimously in favor of expanding its policy platform to include full-day pre-K at its national affairs conference in Washington, D.C., in May, adding to its agenda of increasing the quality of pre-K programs.

“It will be a difficult issue, but it doesn’t lessen its importance,” said Bill Hammond, the group’s CEO. “The cost of remediation is enormous and can be a detriment to the other children who come to kindergarten prepared to do that level of work. Ensuring that every child, who is currently eligible for public Pre-K, is enrolled in a high quality, full-day program will help close that gap.”

[…]

While Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is a supporter of pre-K, his focus is on boosting the quality of programs rather than lengthening the school day. Democrats have urged lawmakers to expand the state’s program to a full day, but that issue has been a non-starter in the Republican-led Legislature.

“The problem we face is, there’s a lot of mediocre pre-K out there today,” Hammond said.

The strategy to selling hesitant lawmakers on extending the pre-K school day and approving the money to fund it requires proving to legislators that quality pre-K works, said Hammond whose association is philosophically aligned with Republicans on many other issues.

1. I want to preface things by applauding the TAB for taking this position. I give them a lot of well-earned grief for their often half-assed support of issues where they disagree with their Republican buddies, but at least they do disagree with them on some key topics. Kudos to them for that.

2. Of course, they make things a lot harder for themselves by also supporting so many Republican officeholders who oppose the things they say they support. I get the value of friendly incumbents, but it would be so much easier if their alleged allies weren’t so often their opponents.

3. We ($) all know ($$) what it’s going to take ($$$) to achieve their stated goals here ($$$$), right? Let’s start with the fact that pre-school teachers are ridiculously underpaid. You want better quality pre-K, you’re going to need to pay salaries that are far more competitive if you want to attract high-quality teachers. The median salary for pre-K teachers in Texas is just under $31K. The median salary for kindergarten teachers is just under $51K. Why would anyone choose to be the former if they could be the latter? When pre-K teachers make roughly the same salaries as their elementary-ed counterparts, I guarantee the quality issue will largely solve itself. So be prepared to pay up if this is what you say you want.

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