New education push starts with pre-K

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - Did you know only one in five students who graduate from a Houston high school go on to some type of higher education? That's exactly why school districts, businesses and community organizations are joining together to try and change that. But it's not in high schools. This effort is beginning with toddlers in Pre-K.

As kids filed into kindergarten all across the Houston area, there was a problem and educators knew it. "We're working to close a gap that we know starts 0 through 4," said Duncan Klussmann, superintendent of Spring Branch ISD.

Now the Greater Houston Partnership has teamed with local businesses and nonprofits to try and change that. The initiative is called "Early Matters" and to understand why it matters, you only need to hear from the second largest employer in Texas, H-E-B.

"In our training materials, historically, they've been written at an 8th grade level. We've had to rewrite them at a fifth-grade level for people who go to work for us. That's heading in the wrong direction in terms of where we want to go," said Scott McClelland with H-E-B.

The group is still working on a long-term plan, but they want to start a full day of Pre-K for 4-year-olds. They believe half-day programs don't work with working parents' schedules. They want to make sure every student can read at grade level by third grade.

The group says there is something parents can do at home from the time your child is born.

"Twenty minutes a day, seven days a week. If you want children to be better readers, they have to read more. They have to hear more words," said HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier.

These leaders say the changes they want to see happen will probably take about 10 years. They plan to release more about their goals and mission next month along with how they plan to fund the proposition.

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