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Pre-K Funding Widens Rift Between Abbott and Patrick

Proposed legislation surrounding pre-K education becomes more than just parental rights this week.
US Dept of Education/flickr
Proposed legislation surrounding pre-K education becomes more than just parental rights this week.

From Texas Standard:

In a letter presented Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s  Grassroots Advisory Board called two pre-kindergarten enhancement bills in the Texas Legislature “a threat to parental rights.”

The letter also called out the bills for being “godless” and “socialistic" — a take that's at striking odds with that of Gov. Greg Abbott, who made pre-K funding a priority during his campaign.

Reporting  for the Houston Chronicle, Lauren McGaughy says the legislation in question,  House Bill 4, is “limited in scope,” with $130 million earmarked to incentivize new or existing pre-K programs to higher quality standards.

“So they would have to have to institute quality control; teachers would have to be trained to a higher level,” McGaughy says. “But it doesn’t expand pre-kindergarten eligibility at all in Texas.”

According to McGaughy, the lieutenant governor released a two-sentence statement later the same day, attempting to distance himself from the assertions made by his advisors.

“There’s been a jockeying between the governor and the lieutenant governor this session,” she says. “It’s been happening behind the scenes, but we’ve been able to see it in policy, where the lieutenant governor has been pushing issues like school vouchers or school choice — tax cuts that might not necessarily be exactly what Abbott is looking for.”

While the governor tries to keep himself out of the foreground in the debate between the two houses, McGaughy says the bill’s weeks-long stagnation in the Senate will further the friction between Abbott and Patrick.

This story was prepared with assistance by Jan Ross Piedad.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Rhonda is the newest member of the KUT News team, joining in late 2013 as producer for KUT's new daily news program, The Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.