‘Early Matters’ to HISD, part of new coalition advocating for preschool learning

On this day when hundreds of thousands of Houston-area youngsters began the new school year, six local superintendents took time out for a news conference at HISD’s Rodriguez ES focusing on a segment for whom education is often hard to come by — low-income, preschool children.

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier joined his fellow educators and a broad coalition of community, business, education, philanthropic, and nonprofit organizations operating as “Early Matters.”  The more than 50 members have pledged to fight for increased funding, access, and quality of the area’s early childhood education programs over the next decade.

“I can think of no topic in education that is more important to those of us who work in it day-in and day-out,” said Grier. “This is something we know we have to get right.”

More than one speaker quoted a study which found that a child in poverty hears about 30 million words less than a child of means by the age of 5. “If you don’t have a good vocabulary when you enter kindergarten, it’s going to inhibit your ability to learn,” said Scott McClelland, president of H-E-B Houston region and chair of the Greater Houston Partnership’s education advisory committee.

Early Matters outlined the broad steps it strives to enact over the next decade as:

  • Increasing the depth and availability of parent resources to help them work with their children;
  • Seeking establishment of high-quality, full-day pre-K programs for all four-year-olds, including three-year-olds as funding becomes available.
  • Acquiring state support of expanded, quality, full-day pre-K programs.

HISD offers a number of preschool programs for families including:

  • Nine early childhood centers and free or low-tuition preschool at most elementary schools.
  • Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), a program that works with families in their homes for parents to become their children’s first teacher.

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