Update (4:40 p.m.): Mayor Julián Castro and state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte joined Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis in San Antonio to support the rollout of the her pre-K campaign platform.
The three drummed up support from lawmakers, teachers and parents at San Antonio’s Amando Leal Middle School.
Van De Putte, who is running for lieutenant governor, said that she and Davis intend to make sure every business gets quality employees who have a great start when it comes to education.
"We know from the support of business leaders that they think it’s a sound investment to have quality pre-kindergarten in this state," Van De Putte said.
"You put your investment at the very beginning to ensure success along the line," she said.
Davis said she is focused on pre-K programs because it boosts math and reading scores and improves concentration.
"We also know that the benefits carry on beyond the classroom, including higher personal income and reduced state spending on prisons and healthcare," Davis said.
The statewide average shows seven of ten low-income families don’t have access to all-day pre-K. San Antonio leads the state for children to have access to all day pre-K programs.
"UT researchers have found that at-risk students, children who are coming low-income families and those with limited English proficiency gained the most from pre-K," Davis said.
In 2011 the legislature cut $200 million from the state's pre-K grant program. Davis said she intends to restore that funding and more by leveraging federal funds and state revenues for an annual cost of $750 million starting in 2015.
Original Post (1 p.m.): Speaking in Houston, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis presented the third component of her campaign’s education policy. This section of her proposed reforms focuses on early childhood development in the form of statewide all-day pre-K.
In a statement, Davis writes:
"We know that every dollar invested in pre-K programs can return up to $16 in dividends. Yet in Texas, nearly seven in ten low-income students are not enrolled in Pre-K, and the state only funds three hours a day."
Davis said her “Great Start, Great Texas” plan will ensure that every eligible child has access to full-day pre-kindergarten classes and is reading on grade level by the third grade.
Davis said she intends to work with the Texas Education Agency to set up a series of grants that support and promote effective pre-K programs in the state.
Her plan also includes establishing quality standards for existing pre-K programs and restore resources to school districts so they may rebuild their community of teacher’s aides which will serve the reading comprehension component of her plan.