Texas Workforce Commission Grant to Expand TEEM Program

Texas Workforce Commission Chair Diane Rath signs check
In a global economy businesses need intelligent well-educated workers in order to remain competitive. That's why a program to get pre-kindergarten poor and at-risk children ready for their school years has received more than $8 million from the Texas Workforce Commission. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice reports.

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About ten years ago the state of Texas decided that child care was an economic development issue.

"The Texas Workforce Commission is the lead child care agency in the state of Texas because those are future workers."

Workforce Commission Chair Diane Rath says TWC pays for childcare for 118,000 children everyday. She says

"It's very important to realize that our competition is China, India, Czechoslovakia, Germany, and we need to be certain that our children will be able to succeed because only if the workers can compete effectively can the employers be able to succeed in this current economic climate."

The TWC's $8.3 million grant will be used to expand TEEM, the Texas Early Education Model developed the by the Children's Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Director Susan Landry says TEEM has been around for four years and has been proven to be a very successful program worthy of expansion.

"We are now going to be in 2000 classrooms and will be serving over 20,000 children in this program with key resources for the teachers, curriculum that is research based, a progress monitoring system that very high tech. It's on a PDA or palm pilot and it gives the teacher information about what to do with which children. They are also trained in a web based internet professional development program and they receive college credit in many communities for that training."

TEEM also places an additional adult in many programs. Mary Jane Gomez is HISD's Manager of Early Childhood.

"Either at a Headstart center or at an HISD Classroom we have Headstart teacher teaming with our teachers in our classroom and we're able then to have two adults in a classroom which makes it even more beneficial."

Young Learners School is an HISD charter school that provides pre-K services to Headstart and daycare centers. Young Learners will now be able to expand the Texas Early Education Model in daycare settings. Sara Gallo says TEEM has a lot to offer than just additional personnel.

"Actually it brings a very strong curriculum that's research based and scientifically designed. It will enable children to enter kindergarten at a level that is commensurate with their peers and impact that first grade retention rate. That will be our first challenge."

All parties agree that everyone benefits when all children, regardless of their economic status, begin their school years prepared to make the most of their education.

Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...