Following up on Pre-K 4 SA town hall

As mentioned earlier, Texas Public Radio hosted a public town hall meeting last week about Mayor Julian Castro’s Pre-K 4 SA proposal. Even if you weren’t there, you can watch the video at NOWCastSA or download the audio from last night’s “Newsmaker Hour” on KSTX.

At the town hall, an education expert on the panel discussed research on the effectiveness of pre-K:

Panelist Lori Taylor, a professor at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service, said early on that she didn’t have “a dog in this hunt” and was just there to offer her insights on education policy.

While research shows the benefits of high quality pre-K programs, there are great differences between those that are research-based with an academic curriculum and “custodial” pre-K programs that are little more than “glorified day care,” she said.

“Pre-K, based on the research, is a go-big-or-go-home kind of investment,” Taylor said. “So if you’re going to talk about pre-K, you have to talk about high-quality pre-K.”

“Opposing sides meet, clash on the Pre-K 4 SA proposal”, Maria Luisa Cesar, San Antonio Express-News, September 19, 2012.

Plaza de Armas columnist Gilbert Garcia sifted through all the buzzwords being tossed around at the town hall and found an interesting twist:

Part of the conservative argument for school vouchers has long been that the public-school system is broken, that it’s more consumed with administrative bureaucracy than edifying kids. Castro, a child of public education, would never be that gloomy in his assessment of public schools, but Tuesday night’s forum showed that, in a way, the conservative argument serves his purposes.

If you contend that public schools are not adequately preparing kids for elementary grades, then it’s hard to dispute Castro’s claim that the City needs to create a model – rather than merely finance existing school-district models – for local schools to follow.

“Pre-K Forum Reveals Divisions”, Gilbert Garcia, Plaza de Armas, September 19, 2012.

Besides the town hall meeting, there’s also a new YouTube video featuring cute four-year-olds talking to the camera. At the end, Carri Baker Wells asks supporters to donate $7.81 (the estimated average annual cost per household of the sales tax increase) to the Pre-K 4 SA campaign.

The video was filmed at the Early Childhood Center at San Antonio College. “In YouTube video, young voices speak out in favor of Pre-K proposal”, Maria Luisa Cesar, San Antonio Express-News, September 22, 2012.

Policy analyst Jeff Judson, a panelist at the Texas Public Radio town hall, invited opponents of the sales tax increase to donate to the Heartland Institute think tank instead. “Heartland Institute Reacts to Mayor Castro’s Pitch for $7.81 for Pre-K Campaign”, Jeff Judson, Heartland Institue, September 21, 2012.

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