But the San Antonio Community’s Commitment to Young Children is Long-standing

San Antonio (April 26, 2018) – A new state-by-state report shows more young children enrolled in public pre-K programs nationwide, with Texas expanding access to preschool for 4-year-olds but falling short on policies to support high-quality classroom practices. IDRA partnered with the National Institute for Early Education Research to announce the release of NIEER’s national State of Preschool 2017 a week ago.

The state, which serves a large number of English learners in state pre-K, has strong policies supporting them – Texas is one of only three states requiring lead teachers to have a bilingual certification to teaching preschool ELs. Yet, the report found that, in Texas, spending per child continued to slide, adjusting for inflation, and the state also backtracked on new funding for quality improvement so the situation is likely to get worse.

“When it comes to making education great, high quality early learning is a fundamental,” said Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President & CEO. “Research and evaluation, spanning five decades and more than 120 studies, show a clear correlation between large-scale, publicly funded pre-k programs and children’s school readiness and future academic achievement.”

Texas 2016-17 Fast Facts

  • Met 4 of 10 new quality standards benchmarks
  • Enrolled 224,114 children, an increase of 3,474 from 2015-16 State funding = $862,035,287, a decrease of $45,052,035 from 2015- 16
  • State spending per-child = $3,846, compared to $4,111 in 2015-16 T
  • Requires teacher certification for teaching preschool English learners
  • Ranks 10 in access for 4-year-olds
  • Ranks 13 in access for 3-year-olds
  • Ranks 28 in state spending per child

NIEER State of Preschool 2017 – Texas

In San Antonio, city leadership and the community rose to the challenge by investing in our children’s future. With Pre-K 4 SA, our city is among just a handful to take a pro-active approach to improving early childhood education. Since 2013, Pre-K 4 SA has grown to serve more than 2,000 children in the past year alone. San Antonio has taken the lead in providing services for English learners to increase opportunities for all our students through research-based practices and a commitment to excellence. We offer Texas a growing knowledge-base and track record of success.

And this builds on a history of local commitment to improving access and quality in early childhood education. Amanecer (“new day”), created here in San Antonio by IDRA in the 1970s, was the first developmental early childhood curricula to incorporate language, culture and values of English learners (no longer in print). Amanecer gave rise to IDRA’s Reading Early for Academic Development (READ) project a few decades later, also brought into being by the strength of school, community and family leadership in San Antonio. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, we established Centers of Excellence based on a multicultural model. READ showed dramatic school readiness results among participating children as they developed their oral language, phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge and print awareness.

IDRA’s research also informed Semillitas de Aprendizaje™ – a unique bilingual (Spanish/English) supplemental curriculum and professional development model that is helping teachers foster literacy, numeracy and social-emotional development, while valuing and capitalizing on children’s home language and culture. As quality teaching is key to providing the high-quality early learning experiences, IDRA provides customized technical assistance and training that can include: classroom demonstrations and observations, coaching for success, nurturing of innovations, and building on existing strengths.

“Securing a high-quality education for all children in Texas from children’s earliest years is essential to our state’s economic health and prosperity,” said Robledo Montecel. “Quality early education increases a child’s likelihood to do well in school, graduate high school, and attend college.”

She added: “As families come together this weekend to celebrate El Día de Los Niños, we are lifting up what we cherish most: our children. Our community and our families want them to have choices in life, to dream big and make it real. We call on Texas to act on its commitment to ensure all of our children get a strong college-directed education that begins in preschool.”

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Media Contact: Christie L. Goodman, APR, at IDRA, 210-444-1710; christie.goodman@idra.org