On November 6, San Antonio voters will decide whether to increase their sales tax by 1/8th cent to generate $280 million over a period of eight years. Revenue from the tax increase would fund a new city educational corporation. The city council would appoint the executive director and board of directors for the corporation, which would be accountable to the city manager.
The city reports that San Antonio is home to 16,500 children eligible for Texas pre-kindergarten funding. Of these, 10,800 are currently enrolled in full-day pre-K and 3,400 are enrolled in half-day pre-K, totaling 14,200 children currently enrolled. Children and districts become eligible for state-funded pre-K when they live in low-income or non-native-English-speaking households.
The city proposes to provide full-day pre-K for the 3,400 children currently enrolled in half-day, and full-day pre-K for the 2,300 children who are eligible but not currently enrolled in any pre-K. The plan projects that during the first year 700 children would receive full-day services. That figure would increase to 1,500 in year two, and then to 3,700 in years four through eight, yielding a total of 22,400 children. Of these, 1,390 children who do not fall within the state eligibility guidelines would be provided pre-K subsidies on a sliding scale.
Beyond expanding pre-K services to young children, the proposed program would train a group of pre-K teachers in “innovative” teaching and assessment strategies demonstrated at four “Centers of Excellence” (model centers) to pre-K teachers of partner providers (school districts, charter schools, private schools, and community programs). The curricula would focus on language, math, and literacy.
This plan makes important assumptions that have not been tested about what is good for young children and families, including many that educational and developmental research do not support. Although there are many reasons to question the wisdom of this proposal, this report focuses on seven.