“The Mayor’s Pre-K 4 SA Initiative will ensure that our youth are well equipped with the educational tools necessary for them to succeed, and ultimately create an internationally competitive workforce in San Antonio.”
– Raúl Lomelí-Azoubel, Chairman of the Board
San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
The following article is from the City of San Antonio website:
In May 2011, Mayor Julián Castro assembled a committee of concerned business and education leaders to determine if a targeted, significant financial investment could fundamentally improve San Antonio’s educational trajectory.
The group, led by USAA CEO and Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Joe Robles and H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt, was evenly split between business leaders and education experts, including school superintendents and college presidents. They examined three areas — very early childhood education, dropout prevention and college attainment.
After more than a year of studying best practices and evidence-based outcomes in other U.S. cities, the data was incontrovertible. When children enter kindergarten prepared to learn, they are more confident and apt to succeed throughout their academic career, while teachers and administrators are freed from the burden of teaching and crafting curriculum to students with varying levels of preparedness.
There are more than 20,000 four-year-olds in San Antonio today. Due to circumstances that have nothing to do with their intelligence or capacity to learn, as many as one in four of those children who are otherwise eligible for state and federally funded Pre-K either go unserved or receive just a half-day of early education. They are eligible because of their income, their parents’ military status, time spent in the foster care system and their home language. When these children miss out on the benefits of early childhood education, catching them up is an additional drain on the system.
In order for San Antonio to build a globally competitive workforce that is prepared to take on the jobs of the 21st century, the Brainpower Task Force determined that San Antonio could yield the most profound results across the education spectrum by starting early. A 1/8-cent sales tax, to be voted on by San Antonio voters on Nov. 6, 2012, will generate about $29 million annually and be eligible to receive millions of dollars in state funding.
The cost of this investment is estimated to be $7.81 annually per median San Antonio household.
WHAT DOES THE PRE-K 4 SA INITIATIVE DO?
- It invests $29 million annually in voter-approved sales staxes to leverage millions in state funding to provide full-day Pre-K.
- Once fully ramped up, it would provide full-day, high-quality Pre-K services to more than 4,000 children annually from throughout the city who don’t receive it.
- In the first year, two world-class Centers of Excellence would highlight best practices and expose area teachers to cutting-edge teaching practices. Two additional model centers would be added in subsequent years. All San Antonio Pre-K teachers and principals would benefit from training provided at the model centers.
WHAT MAKES THE Pre-K 4 SA INITIATIVE DIFFERENT?
- Active parental involvement is a requirement for participation. This is not a day care system. Children will be expected to arrive on time and ready to learn.
- The impact will extend far beyond the more than 4,000 children served annually. A child entering kindergarten ready to learn reduces the burden on teachers and allows them to focus on all of the children in the classroom.
- The teacher-training component in the Centers of Excellence will, over time, benefit all area Pre-K teachers by providing a model and extending training to all Pre-K teachers and principals across San Antonio.
- The very early childhood education approach is proven to work in countless communities and in countless studies.
WHAT IMPACT CAN THE COMMUNITY EXPECT FROM THE Pre-K 4 SA INITIATIVE?
- Attendance in Pre-K has been proven to lead to:
- 29 percent increase in graduation rate for at-risk children
- 41 percent reduction in later placement in special education
- 40 percent decrease in likelihood of being retained one or more grades
- In total, even studies using very conservative assumptions show benefit-cost ratio of high-quality Pre-K of at least a $3 return for every $1 invested, with the most commonly cited ratio being a $7 return for every $1 invested.
(Source: Reynolds, Arthur. Dividends of Early Learning. University of Wisconsin.)