Yesterday the San Antonio Express-News ran a story on Texas' potential participation in President Obama's Preschool for All Program, which would draw an estimated $308 million in grants to Texas to expand access to pre-kindergarten in the state.
To say nothing of the dangers that come with accepting any form of federal funding (nothing, after all, is ever really free), what should be examined is whether this is something Texas needs in the first place. How much of what we learn at an exceptionally young age truly travels with us through life? Late last year, the Texas Public Policy Foundation released a study on San Antonio's pre-k proposed expansion, highlighting the "fade-out effect." The fade-out effect shows that in many cases, any academic benefits of pre-kindergarten are no longer do not carry past the 3rd grade. As much makes any substantial state investment in pre-kindergarten questionable at best.
Fortunately, Governor Perry is approaching these grant monies with appropriate caution. Per the linked story, his office responded to the potential grants as follows:
"Gov. Perry continues to believe that Texas knows best how to educate our children, and we will not sacrifice our standards or local control for one-size-fits-all federal mandates," the spokesman, Josh Havens, said.
Further, it should be noted that pre-kindergarten is widely available in Texas already. More money, especially federal money, is not going drastically change the Texas education landscape. In fact, more money is the only thing we have really tried over the last several decades, without results. Again, nothing is ever really free. Texas doesn't need more money for pre-kindergarten, and it certainly doesn't need money covered in Washington, D.C.'s red tape."