Mayor Julián Castro’s initiative using one-eighth cent of the sales tax to fund Pre-K-4 SA is an investment in the children of San Antonio and the future of San Antonio.
We have already had testimonials from CEOs of large companies, such as Toyota, about the importance of a strong educational foundation to enable qualified future workers to fill skilled jobs providing good incomes in our city. We are all aware of the numerous peer-reviewed research reports about the value of quality early education programs which enable students to succeed in primary school, earn high school diplomas, and pursue higher education.
Economists have also demonstrated positive economic returns on investments in early education. An August op-ed piece in The New York Times by Charles M. Blow titled “Starving the Future” argued that only half of U.S. children receive early education, and we have no national strategy to increase enrollment. Blow also provided data from a report prepared by the Center for American Progress entitled, “The Race That Really Matters: Comparing U.S., Chinese and Indian Investments in the Next Generation Workforce.” The report found that “by 2030 China will have 200 million college graduates—more than the entire U.S. workforce. “ The report showed that by 2020 China will enroll 40 million children in pre-school, a 50 percent increase from today. According to those figures, China will have provided 70 percent of the children in China with three years of preschool. Blow concluded by arguing, “we don’t have any time—or students—to waste.”
That is exactly what Mayor Castro is arguing. Despite reductions in spending at the state level for education, San Antonio leaders are determined to invest in our children.
I hope the people of San Antonio will turn out and vote Tuesday, and when they do, agree that we do not have time or children to waste. The Pre-K 4 SA initiative is well planned and will cost very little per family to invest in our children. Participation in a quality preschool program may change the trajectory of a deserving child’s life, and having excellent early childhood demonstration centers will provide models for others and raise the quality of programs throughout the city.
Dr. Harriett Romo is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Mexico Center and the Bank of America Child & Adolescent Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) at the University of Texas San Antonio. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.