Welcome to the Early Matters Advocacy Center.
Early Matters is multi-regional coalition, with chapters in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, Texas, committed to enacting systemic change to increase awareness of the importance of early childhood education and expand access to high quality early learning environments to improve outcomes for all students across our state. We are thankful for your support in this effort. Our Advocacy Center will provide you with information on key issues related to early childhood education before, during, and after each Texas legislative session, including resources such as one-pagers, reports, and opportunities to contact your state elected officials to advocate on behalf of this crucial matter.
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The 2019 legislative session marked tremendous progress for quality early childhood education in the state of Texas. Early Matters Dallas is honored to have played a part in the passage of bills reflective of the following legislative priorities.
Formula Funding for Full Day, High-Quality Pre‑K
Full-day, high-quality pre‑K is the most cost-efficient, impactful investment we can make in our students’ academic success. A child’s first years in school are foundational and set the tone for the remainder of their academic career. Students from high-quality pre‑K programs are significantly more likely to be ready for Kindergarten and read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. Students not meeting these critical benchmarks are up to four times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers.
HB 3 by Representative Dan Huberty provides an additional $780 million in annual formula funding for school districts to invest in pre‑K through 3rd grade early literacy supports, sufficient so that all school districts may implement full-day, high-quality pre‑K for eligible students.
Training for School Personnel on Trauma and Toxic Stress Informed Practices
Texas students are at great risk of experiencing trauma and toxic stressors. Whether from natural disasters, troubling events, or the everyday stress of poverty that 60% of Texas students endure, too many students experience trauma that, in large part, causes mental health and behavioral challenges that prevent them from excelling in school.
As trauma and toxic stress builds, young children act out, which can negatively impact academic outcomes. Unfortunately, traditional forms of discipline can often exacerbate a child’s misbehavior, and school personnel often lack the requisite training to recognize and mitigate behavioral problems resulting from trauma and toxic stress. Yet research indicates that a minimal amount of training in trauma-informed practices can prepare teachers to positively diffuse a student’s problematic behavior and enhance learning for all in the classroom.
HB 18 by Representative Four Price requires training on trauma-informed practices for teachers, and incorporates holistic trauma-informed practices into school district improvement plans.
Improve the Texas Workforce Commission’s Childcare Data and Transparency
Childcare subsidies are the largest expenditure in the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) budget at nearly $750 million per year. For this investment, TWC supports childcare providers across the state in providing care to over 100,000 children per day. Despite this sizable investment, there is little public information about how this money is being spent and the quality of childcare programs receiving subsidy funds.
HB 680 by Representative Joe Deshotel increases coordination between TWC and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to improve student outcomes and maximize taxpayer dollars, requires TWC to set a vision for high-quality early childhood education, including goals for participation in the Teacher Retirement System (TRS), and requires TWC to publicly report data already collected by the agency regarding expenditures, TRS participation, capacity for infants and toddlers, and more.