EL PASO — Finger paintings hang alongside the wall, number lines run along the perimeter of the pre-kindergarten classroom, and the alphabet is displayed for the children’s eager eyes.
The Ysleta Pre-Kindergarten Center located at 7940 Craddock Ave El Paso, Texas 79915 is just one of the many Pre-K establishments for children to begin their education. “In our campus we have a total 725 students and about 100 employees,” said Principal Sandra Perez-Ibarra.
Pre-kindergarten programs, however, may soon be the victims of cuts in the Texas state budget. This session, lawmakers will approve a budget for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 (Sept. 1, 2011 to Aug. 31, 2012).
According to the Associated Press, Texas is dealing with a $15 billion revenue shortfall that is looking to cut arts education, pre kindergarten programs, and teacher initiative pay. All this is in an effort to eliminate a deficit while keeping their promise to not raising taxes.
Questions began to fill the mind of Principal Perez-Ibarra about what the kids will be doing if they are not in school and whether or not their parents will be able to manage them if they don’t have the funds to put them in daycare. “Those were a lot of the questions that popped into my mind and I’m thinking I wonder if the state is thinking about those things; this is just one school, we have 725 kids. We’re talking about a lot of little ones that don’t have that extra support.”
Children at the Ysleta Pre-K Center are in danger of losing their method of receiving an education at a young age. Teachers are in jeopardy of losing their jobs of teaching four and five-year-olds the basics of education that will lead them in their lives. Pilar Guevara has been teaching Pre-K ever since she graduated from college and was speechless when she was given the news what the budget cuts were contemplating the elimination of Pre-K programs. “I’ve worked 11 years in Pre-K and we are the foundation. We are the foundation in social skills; we’re the foundation in math, in reading, in science. We are the foundation academically. Not only that but as a teacher I want them this little to love school,” Guevara said.
According to the Texas State Teachers Association the proposed cuts will “eliminate funding for Early Childhood School Readiness Grant Programs, including PreK, Head Start, and university early childhood programs with public schools.” With these programs gone, children will not receive the adequate education needed. “If that’s done away with I can guarantee you that in Kindergarten, they’re not going to thrive the way that they do if they have Pre-K,” Guevara said.
Although the suggested budget cuts will jeopardize the jobs of hundreds of employees at this center, their main concern is on the children according to Principal Perez-Ibarra, “Teachers fear for their jobs, but more than anything for the children. The first question is not about ‘am I going to have a job?’ And it’s amazing. Their question is ‘What’s going to happen to the kids? Where are they going to end up?’ And it’s amazing because they’re putting the children first, even before themselves.”