FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 02/26/2015
Representative Huberty Files House Bill 4 for High Quality Prekindergarten Programs
AUSTIN, TX - Today, State Representative Dan Huberty (Houston), filed legislation that outlines a High Quality Prekindergarten Program. House Bill 4 (HB 4) encourages Texas public school districts to implement high quality, accountable prekindergarten standards, and to provide additional funding for those districts already operating a program as outlined in the bill. The overall goal of HB 4 is to implement a long term, successful prekindergarten system for all public schools in the state.
"This bill is a significant step toward making effective, accountable pre-K available to more Texas children," said House Speaker Joe Straus. "These programs can make a real difference in children’s lives and in the future of our state. Early childhood education is a priority for the Texas House, and I look forward to working with Representative Huberty and all of our colleagues on this important issue."
Currently, Texas public school districts receive half-day prekindergarten funding for their eligible population equal to $3,650 per student. HB 4 would allow districts to opt-in and receive up to an additional $1,500 per eligible student, as determined by the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
"With the passage of HB 4, school districts will have the opportunity to measure the success of their existing pre-K programs. Many of them are already operating at or above the standards outlined in this bill and may now be monetarily rewarded by the State," explained Representative Huberty. "It is our hope that this legislation will encourage other districts to raise the standards of their early education programs and help ensure better learning outcomes for all Texas students."
In order for districts to qualify, they must fully align their curriculum with the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and measure progress to meet the learning outcomes underlined in those guidelines. Prekindergarten teachers must also be appropriately certified in early childhood education as outlined in the current Texas Education Code. Finally, individual districts are required to develop a parental engagement plan to establish and maintain high levels of family involvement in the student's educational career.
“We are very excited that Rep. Huberty and other leaders in the House are coming together to support needed investment in early childhood education,” said Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP). “We are a founding member of the Early Matters Coalition because success in pre-K will support K-12 efforts and help Texas build the best workforce in the country. The Coalition is working hard to put other resources in place to support the increased investment from the state, which is critical.”
House Bill 4 is one of several pieces of education-related legislation filed by Representative Huberty for the 84th Session. In his third term representing District 127, Huberty remains dedicated to addressing the many issues and challenges that lie ahead for his constituents and all Texans.
Contact: Casey Christman