New Education Study Says Texas Could Enroll Far More Kids In Pre-K | KERA News

New Education Study Says Texas Could Enroll Far More Kids In Pre-K

Apr 23, 2020

A new research study out today on pre-K education says Texas could be doing better than enrolling just half of its 4-year-olds.

W. Steven Barnett is co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research. He says Texas now enrolls half (49%) of the state’s 4-year-olds and 9% of 3-year-olds through state-funded programs. He says things could be better.

“Texas could easily enroll 70% of its kids, probably more,” Barnett says. “In places that really have universal preschool, it’s well above 90%. You could have the same percentage as in kindergarten.”

Barnett says some parents earn too much money to qualify for state-funded pre-K. He spoke with one Texas mom who told him working multiple jobs made her child ineligible.

In the conversation he recalled, the mother said her son doesn’t qualify for preschool because she works two jobs. So her son has to stay home with his grandfather who doesn’t speak English. "What do I do?" she asked.

“My response," Barnett said, “is you need to talk to political leaders in Texas because you’ve put your finger on the problem.”

Barnett urges Texas lawmakers to make pre-K universal, like it is in Oklahoma. With the severe economic downturn caused by coronavirus, he said the state should at least hold onto what it has now, so students don’t pay the price once the job market bounces back.