A new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities's KIDS COUNT Project, Invest in Texas Kids. It Matters., confims that when Texas invests more in its children, children have better outcomes.
Over the past twenty years, investments in per-child spending have tracked with child well-being. Not only did students perform better in school during periods of higher investment, but there were positive trends in the areas of health, safety and other behaviors as well.
The CPPP concluded that, “when Texas kids do better, the U.S. does better” – from 2000 to 2010, half of all of the growth of the youth population in the U.S. took place in Texas., and one out of every eleven kids in the country lives in Texas. If we don't invest now, we'll pay the price later. As the report points out, Texas is ranked as one of the best states to do business, but “one of the worst states to be a kid.” Read more after the jump.It's more than just education spending that leads to these positive outcomes – it's also in the areas of health, nutrition and protective services. Of the spending areas, health and education had some of the biggest multipliers, meaning investments in these two areas were correlated with positive outcomes in the areas of education, health, safety and other positive youth behaviors. Investments in nutrition were also related to better outcomes in education.
According to CPPP researcher Kaeley Bobbitt, “These data confirm that investments in children are wise investments. When we decide to prioritize children by investing in programs that support their growth and development, they do better, and healthy, well-educated, and well-cared for children help ensure Texas' future prosperity.”
Unfortunately, our legislature is not making these critical investments. According to CPPP estimates, “more than a quarter of Texas children lived in poverty, more than half did not attend preschool, almost three-quarters of Texas fourth graders were not proficient in reading, and more than one out of every 10 Texas children lacked health insurance.” And per-child spending remains about 12 percent below where it should be.
As the legislature closes out the session, it's worth remembering that the investments we make in kids – or lack thereof – have impacts that are real, immediate and far-reaching.