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Gov. Perry Signs Early Start Initiative

Location: Brownsville, TX

Gov. Perry Signs Early Start Initiative

New Law Will Expand Program Statewide

Gov. Rick Perry today signed Senate Bill 23 expanding the Early Start Initiative to the entire state of Texas.

"In 2003, Texas launched a pilot program called the Early Start Initiative to help create more structured, productive learning laboratories where our youngest children could build a solid foundation for future academic success," Perry said. "Today I am proud to sign a law that will expand the Early Start Initiative across the state and put more young students on the path that leads to success in high school, college and beyond."

In 2003, Head Start Centers in 15 communities began participating in the new Early Start program. Since then, a scientifically-based pre-K curriculum has been developed for participants to use in teaching the basics of reading and language comprehension.

Perry said that in the past two years, results have been dramatic. "We have seen children who participate in the Early Start Initiative show marked improvement in pre-literacy skills, they demonstrate a better understanding of sounds, letters, and vocabulary, and by the time they reach the school classroom, Early Start children are better prepared to succeed in reading, writing and verbal communication."

"To put it simply, the Early Start Initiative is giving Texas children the first building blocks that will help them climb to their highest potential later in life," Perry said.

SB 23 gives the Commissioner of Education the authority to develop new incentives to encourage more child care providers and pre-K programs to participate in the Early Start Initiative. Additionally, a new certification system will be established to ensure that those who participate in the Early Start program meet high standards and are focused on the goal of preparing children for school.

"To a child, every day is a new learning laboratory where their curiosity is cultivated, new steps are taken, new skills are learned and a host of questions asked and answered," Perry said. "By expanding the Early Start Initiative and equipping more children with the fundamentals of reading and writing, we can help more children climb the ladder of academic achievement, and widen the circle of success."

Texas is home to more than 650,000 pre-school aged children with a child population that is growing faster than any other state. Over the next several decades, the number of children attending school in Texas is projected to double.

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