In this legislative session, the leaders of our fine state have wisely prioritized education, including early childhood, and hooray for them. An educated society is vitally important to our state and to this country. The facts show that the earlier children begin, the better.
Scientific breakthroughs in understanding brain development make it clear that the early years are a unique period of development and early experiences form the foundation for future success. Only 41 percent of Texas third-graders are reading at grade-level, and low-income students are at 30 percent.
If a child is behind in third grade reading, it’s difficult to catch up, and statistics show that children will most likely drop out of school before they finish high school. Those are very sad statistics and Texas needs to change them. A way to change is to begin early.
If Texas legislators were to track what’s going on in Galveston, they would see a unique model for early childhood learning and one where the early data shows that it’s paying off. It’s expensive, but if the state would invest now in funding early childhood education,
Texas would save monies it spends on remedial education, homelessness, crime, incarcerations and lost wages.
The Moody Early Childhood Center’s pre-K3 children’s test scores from the time they entered our classrooms in August, and what they are now after testing on Jan. 15 demonstrate that teaching children at 3 years old is very productive. Recognizing upper case letters, scores from August to mid-January were 11 percent higher, in recognizing shapes, it was 19 points higher, and knowing numbers from 1-5 scores were 22 percent higher — all within 4 ½ months. Imagine what all of Texas’s children could be if they had the benefits of the same type of early education.
The center was developed almost three years ago. It began as a nonprofit for children 6 weeks to 3 years old. Today it’s an in district charter school of Galveston Independent School District, the only one of its kind in Texas. It’s supported with family tuition, tax dollars and philanthropic donations and grants. What makes us unique is our programs.
We teach and support the entire family — not just the child. Our children have a curriculum no matter how young. We have qualified trained teachers, low class ratios, and we counsel our parents on everything from health, jobs, finances, mental health, dental health, and being the best parent they can be to their children. This is a model that Texas should support, and Texas businesses should jump on the bandwagon to lend their support. Our students are their future employees.
To our legislature, make Texas a leader in education. Recognize the importance of funding full day pre-K3, and pre-K4. A full day allows the children to learn and grow and enter kindergarten ready to learn. It allows the parents to work full-time knowing their children are in a safe learning environment. Fund and provide early childhood education for all of Texas early learners by giving us universal all day pre-K3-4. The payback will be worth every dime.