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Will States Keep Pre-K? Texas Wants It

A big question looming right now as states finalize their budgets is whether pre-K programs will be sacrificed, or whether the invest early argument will force policymakers to shift priorities.

In Texas, the Associated Press reports that the state's education commissioner is pushing to keep pre-K and slash science labs instead.

Back in August, economist Jim Heckman, a leading proponent of invest early, told the Washington Post that states need to rethink how they spend their money. Prison is a lot more expensive than pre-K, for example. (But he didn't say how to cut spending on jails and prisons for the criminals we already have in order to reduce the number of criminals later.)

The word seems to be getting out to places one might not expect. For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is encouraging its members to support pre-K by lobbying for state policy and funding, as well as directly investing in pre-K efforts and scholarships to train early-childhood teachers. And a retired Air Force general is featured in a Zero to Three-sponsored video about the importance of investing in early literacy and pre-K programs.

But if you look at the comments on the Chronicle piece, you'll see some regular folks who buy Chester Finn's argument that pre-K is just Big Guvmint Brother coming after little kids. Stay tuned on this one—I'm not sure what odds Jimmy the Greek would give pre-K in the states right now.

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