Texas Comes Up Short in Bid for Federal Pre-K Funding

Image: Texas Tribune

Morgan Smith, Texas Tribune
Texas will not receive a share of $250 million in federal funding marked to help states expand preschool programs, the U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday.

Among 35 states that applied for competitive grants available through the Obama administration’s Preschool for All initiative, Texas was eligible to receive up to $30 million annually over a four-year period if it had been selected.

The money is part of the $1 billion in early education funding the president is set to announce Wednesday. That figure includes $500 million in federal dollars for Early Head Start and child care programs and $330 million in private money from corporations and philanthropic foundations.

Texas’ high class-size ratio — twice the recommended 10-to-1 child to instructional staff ratio — was among the areas federal reviewers dinged when examining the state’s application, according to documents from the U.S. Department of Education. About half of the states that applied for the grants received funds.

When the state applied for the grant in October, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams said the money presented an opportunity to build on the success of existing programs in the state. Such programs pay for half-day preschool for students from low-income, non-English-speaking or military families.

In a statement released Wednesday after the announcement, Williams said the state had identified high-need communities in 15 counties that would have received funds through the federal grant.

“The federal government’s decision, while disappointing, does not take away from our state’s belief in the value of high quality prekindergarten programs,” he said, adding that he looked forward to working on state-level initiatives with Gov.-elect Greg Abbott and state lawmakers.

Abbott, who will take office Jan. 20, said he planned to make early education a top policy priority at a Monday news conference.

“I want to ensure that all children finish the third grade reading and doing math at or above grade level,” he said.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

Care-All 2014: Creative Agencies Gather to Celebrate Past, Presents, and Future of Casa de Esperanza

On Wednesday, December 10th, The Black Sheep Agency will host the 2nd annual Care-All: Past, Presents and Future, bringing together a group of creative collaborators to multiply their charitable impact. The event will celebrate the upcoming holidays while giving back to an organization impacting Houston’s future.

Casa de Esperanza de los Niños provides residential care and coordinates medical services for children in crisis due to abuse, neglect or the effects of HIV. In the giving spirit of the holidays, tickets to the event will be a present or book for the children they serve. Casa-de-esperanza-logoIn addition to entry, there will be several other opportunities to donate directly to this worthy cause. Whether it’s perusing the locally sourced silent auction, throwing a pie in someone’s face, pinning the beard on Santa or noshing on the selection of food truck fare, 100 percent of the money collected will go back to Casa de Esperanza.

The first Care-All event had more than 600 attendees and donated more than 800 toys and books to The Children’s Assessment Center. The goal for this year’s event is to donate more than 1,000 presents to our beneficiary.

Click here for more information about Care-All.

To RSVP, please visit http://houstoncareall.eventbrite.com.

Mayor Parker Seeks To Fund Body Cams for Houston Police

While anger continues to mount around much of the nation regarding police killings in Ferguson, MO, Cleveland, OH and New York City, one of the things many have been calling for are police body cameras. These cameras are small wearable devices that can provide more context to investigations of police incidents, and perhaps (some suggest) dissuade a rouge officer from using excessive force. At the national level the President has already called for them, and now the Mayor and Houston police chief are looking at ways to get them on all Houston Police officers.  (Video: KHOU 11 News)

LINK: More on HPD's 2013 experiment with body cameras.

LINK: More on HPD’s 2013 experiment with body cameras.