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Texas Legislature Passes Gov.-Supported Preschool Bill

After much fuss and fanfare, a preschool bill that does little to change public preschool in Texas has passed the state legislature and awaits the governor's signature.

The new bill, which passed the Senate on May 7 after passing the House on April 9, will satisfy Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's campaign promise to restore public preschool funding in Texas. As state Democrats and other advocates have pointed out, the $130 million the bill will direct to preschools will do little more than restore some of the $300 million lost to cuts in 2011. Nor does the new bill expand the program, which provides a half-day of preschool to children with language barriers, living in low-income families, or who have parents in the military.

At the same time, many on the far right, a strong constituency in Texas, worry about the fact that the bill spends any money at all on a social program supporters of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have called "godless."

However, even one conservative legislator praised the bill.

"I think this bill is a fiscally, morally and academically responsible thing to do," Republican Donna Campbell told the AP according to an article summarizing the bill's passage in the Senate.

Texas ranked earned a C grade for early-childhood education in Education Week's evaluation of state preschool provision in its 2015 Quality Counts report.

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