A picture of Representative Marc A. Veasey
Marc V.
Democrat TX 33

About Rep. Marc
  • The Importance of Pre-K

    by Representative Marc A. Veasey

    Posted on 2015-02-12

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    VEASEY. Mr. Speaker, I come here today to the House floor to address an extremely important and timely topic for our Nation: investing in high-quality pre-K education. It is really imperative to the success of our children, schools, and communities.

    Two years ago, in this Chamber, President Obama laid out his plan to provide universal high-quality pre-K for every child in America. Why did the President propose such a bold and audacious plan for our country? It is really simple. It has been proven that children who participate in high-quality prekindergarten programs are more likely to have greater academic and life achievements down the road.

    The benefits of a high-quality pre-K education include increased eagerness and preparedness to learn; higher reading, writing, and mathematics scores; and increased cognitive and social abilities. Access to quality pre-K is a much better predictor of achievement than race, family income, or parents' education.

    Research has demonstrated that access to prekindergarten programs have substantial long-term benefits. Children that have attended prekindergarten are 20 percent more likely to graduate from high school and 22 percent more likely to own a home. Additionally, these individuals are more likely to be employed and less likely to commit violent crimes.

    I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, one of the things that saddens me the most about my home State of Texas is that we are leaving a lot of really bright young people behind.

    {time} 1030 Nearly 550,000 preschool-aged children in Texas do not attend any type of pre-K program, despite what I laid out earlier about less likely to commit violent crimes, more likely to own homes. You would think it would be a no-brainer and we would be committing more towards pre-K education.

    Leaving behind this many children, 550,000--over half a million-- really does pose a serious, long-term economic effect to our great State and is something that needs to be addressed. It is apparent that high-level prekindergarten education produces individuals that are more prosperous and more likely to contribute to society in a positive way.

    To help States like my own boost their pre-K education programs, President Obama and the Department of Education delivered on his State of the Union Address, and they released Preschool Development Grants. These grants will help expand high-quality preschool programs in targeted communities.

    When the announcements were made in December--again, I have got to tell you, we do a lot of great things in Texas, and we often do it bigger and better--but I was really disappointed, Mr. Speaker, to learn that our State had lost out on $120 million of this grant funding to invest in our children and really, ultimately, our future--$120 million that the great State of Texas lost out on, over half a million kids being left behind. This was really a sad day in the Lone Star State.

    This money would have been used to improve pre-K education and expand access to children in low-income communities who need these services the most, and losing out on this money should really be a wake-up call to Texas and the policymakers there, that we must create a plan to improve our pre-K system.

    Texas failed to meet even the minimum requirements of this application to provide at least a 50 percent increase in preschool slots available, and that is just really unacceptable.

    My State needs a comprehensive pre-K plan that works to increase access to high-quality programs, set higher learning standards, improve curriculum, and increase teacher training. All those really are very, very important keys.

    The failure to invest in our young children is a failure to invest in our future. Here in Congress and back home, I intend to work tirelessly to provide for the best education system that our Nation can provide.

    But there are some bright spots. I talked about how the State, because of the failed application policy that was just really handled poorly, how we lost out on $120 million and over half a million kids are suffering because of that, but I do think that it is important that I point out some of the positives.

    There has been some bipartisan work along these efforts on pre-K, and I do want to thank one of my former colleagues in the State legislature, State Representative Eric Johnson of Dallas, and a lady that I did not serve with out of Georgetown, Texas--near Austin--Marsha Farney of Georgetown, to not only increase pre-K funding by $300 million, but also improve curriculum, teacher training, and lower student-teacher ratios.

    In this global economy that we live in today and tomorrow, students won't be competing for jobs in the workplace with neighboring States but will be competing with kids and students from all over the world.

    Mr. Speaker, let's do this for Texas. Let's do the right thing. Let's help these children.

    [[Page H989]] ____________________

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