Pre-kindergarten program defended by local educators who use it

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Study after study concludes a pre-school curriculum helps students prepare for school. The Texas Early Education Model, or TEEM is used for thousands of Texas children, including the ones at Nacogdoches Head Start and Nacogdoches Independent School District.

Head Start Director Weldon Beard noted the school accomplishments. "This has been our third year being involved in teem project it's been a wonderful experience. Our teachers love it. We just recently got certified as TEEM ready, Kindergarten Ready Certified Project for 2008."

The schools receive brand new teaching materials. Critics say it's a way to market research and products through commercial vendors. The teachers receive professional development. Teachers say what they learn is used from the playground to the classroom. And it benefits older minds as well as younger minds. Teacher Shante Teal believes,"It helps me interact with the children and helps me to get those ideas put into place into my classroom." But critics raise questions about payments to educators. Those in Nacogdoches receive stipends to attend workshops. Everything else is free through the grant program. Beard claims, "$11,000 for a class where you divide it out by the number of children is actually really an inexpensive program."

The Children's Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston sponsors TEEM. It's responding by e-mailing participants to be aware of the criticism, but not alarmed. They believe the children's performance will speak in behalf of the program.