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Big plans for toddlers in San Antonio

March 4, 2016
AccessEconomics and FinanceGovernance and AccountabilityOutcomesQuality and CurriculumState & LocalWorkforce
Juleyka Lantigua-Williams
The Atlantic

An early-education experiment could help the city prepare for its future.

Bruck said that the group looked at college readiness, recovery and dropout prevention, and early childhood initiatives, and determined that “getting all children in San Antonio ready for school would make the most impact.” At the time, and still today, many independent school districts in the city and throughout the state could not afford to offer full-day pre-k because the state only funds half-day programs. . .

The difference is two-fold, according to most supporters. First, Pre-K 4 SA offers full-time instruction, which most districts working within the confines of state funds cannot afford. Second is the intentional location of the centers at the city’s four quadrants to try to reach as many underserved communities as possible. Experts argue that geography has a lot more to do with education than people are willing to admit.

“It’s really coming down to kids getting educational opportunities based on the zip code that they live in. And we don’t offer an equitable education system across the state. It’s not just Baxer County that that’s happening in; it’s reflected in the entire state,” Kring Villanueva, who has offered testimony on the issue, said. She said districts only have to offer pre-k if they identify 15 kids who meet certain criteria—being low income, English language learners, in foster care, and other “at-risk factors.” But because districts have recognized the value of early education, and especially the value of a full-day program, more of them are taking matters into their own hands.