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Conservatives Call Pre-K In Public Schools "Godless Environment"

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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - When it comes to Pre-K, Tamara Jones say she has no doubt about how effective it is for her daughter Kearee.

"I've seen her grow from when she first started academically and socially."

Stephanie Mendoza says she's seen a difference with her younger son Nicholas as well.

"I didn't start my older one in Pre-K, and I wish I would have.  He just went straight to kindergarten, but I see with the younger one, he's developed a lot more."

While Governor Greg Abbott is pushing to expand Pre-K in public schools, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick's Grassroots Advisory Board criticized the legislation's $130 million plus price tag in a letter to State Senators who are considering the bill.

The letter states, "We are experimenting at great cost to taxpayers with a program that removes our young children from homes and half day religious pre-schools and mothers' day out programs to a Godless environment with only evidence showing absolutely no long-term benefits beyond the first grade..."

It goes onto say, "...The early removal of children from parents' care is historically promoted in socialistic countries, not free societies which respect parental rights..."

Michael Openshaw, co-founder of the North Texas Tea Party says, "We wanted to raise the issue because no one else is raising the issue."

When asked if the Senate bill is socialist, Openshaw said, "I wouldn't go as far as that.  It is an example of the type of activities involved in socialist countries.  There's no ifs, ands, or buts about that."

But Tamara Jones worries about the children who need Pre-K the most.

"Because Pre-K is more geared to low income children, they're trying to take that away from kids that really do need to be in a public school and need to have those experiences."

In a statement, the Lt. Governor said he didn't see the letter and didn't authorize its release.

He said he supports a Pre-K program that's good for Texas, but didn't specify what that is.

A spokeswoman for Governor Abbott declined comment on the letter, but said the Governor supports the Pre-k bill approved by the House and being considered by the Senate.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

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