Stop the Yo-Yo: Fully Fund High-Quality Pre-K

Case Study

(86th Regular Session, 2019)

Aldine ISD Pre-K

The Issue

The research is clear: quality, full-day pre-K provides a level playing field and a strong foundation for student success in learning, literacy, and life. Focusing on our youngest learners is the best return on investment we can make in public education. Kindergarten readiness is one of the strongest predictors of third-grade literacy, and literacy rates are directly related to graduation rates and workforce readiness.

Yet, for many decades, the state’s investment in quality pre-Kindergarten was the equivalent of a yo-yo, swinging widely from little to no funding to more substantial investments. Optional half-day pre-K for eligible students has been funded through the Foundation School Program since 1985. Despite that program’s success and calls to expand it, the state inconsistently funded pre-K from $200 million in 1999 to $0 in 2011, $30 million and $118 million for supplemental funding and grants in 2013 to $0 in 2017.

A Raise Your Hand Texas legislative priority, full-day Pre-Kindergarten for every Texas student, became a reality with House Bill 3 (86th Regular Session). Ensuring the Texas Legislature maintained the promise of HB 3 and continued to fund pre-Kindergarten followed through in the 87th Regular Session.

How We Delivered

For over a dozen years, our organization and many other business and education groups across the state have called for investment in high-quality, full-day pre-K for students who need it most.

Our efforts culminated in a successful 2019 comprehensive campaign that coordinated and combined the power of local community leaders, teachers, social welfare groups, law enforcement, and public education advocates. Ultimately 44 organizations, led by Raise Your Hand Texas, came together to call on Texas lawmakers to “Stop the Yo-Yo, Fund Full Day Pre-K.”

During our Power of Pre-K Day at the State Capitol (March 25, 2019), we delivered a powerful and memorable message with House and Senate resolutions, legislative office visits, and even spirited yo-yo performances from competitive yo-yo artists in the Capitol rotunda. Pre-K teachers from around the state joined in the effort by sharing images of high-quality pre-K education in action on social media. Our coalition continued to mobilize its members to support the inclusion of high-quality pre-K funding in school funding legislation through all the twists and turns of the legislative process. Together, advocates made a compelling case for targeted state investment in this research-based practice.

Our efforts culminated in success when the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3 in 2019, investing $5 billion to strengthen public education. Part of that investment was $800 million for early childhood education initiatives, including full-day pre-kindergarten programs for eligible four-year-olds.

Raise Your Hand Texas applauded Texas lawmakers, who finally stopped the yo-yo funding approaches to pre-K and recognized it as an essential tool in building the future of Texas.

Outcome and Impact

Dr. Eric Wright, superintendent of the Hays Consolidated Independent School District, said the funding for pre-K is a game-changer. The district went from seven campuses offering half-day pre-K to 11 campuses offering full-day pre-K within months.

Texas saw an increase in school districts offering full-day pre-K due to the state’s commitment to fund high-quality pre-Kindergarten for Texas students fully.

Highlights from Our Campaign

Media coverage

Social media campaign (#StopTheYoYo #PowerOfPreK)

House and Senate Resolutions

Capitol Press Conference

Capitol Office Visits

Watch our Power of Pre-K highlight reel.


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