Mike Kueber's Blog

October 9, 2012

Pre-K 4 SA

Filed under: Education — Mike Kueber @ 2:13 pm

A few months ago, when I first blogged about Pre-K 4 SA, I expressed concern that taxpayers were being asked to throw good money after bad.  This concern was based on the fact that most four-year-olds in San Antonio already received pre-K schooling, yet those same kids were academically disappointing. 

Since then, the establishment in SA has monolithically rallied behind Pre-K 4 SA with the sort of unanimity that is almost incredible.  According to a succession of newspaper articles, the cost of the program is only a blip – $7.81 annually from each household – and it is endorsed by every serious stakeholder – i.e., big business, all former mayors, and greater SA’s seven chambers of commerce.  An article in today’s Express-News reported that hundreds of thousands of dollars were stockpiled for a heavy advertising push in the last month of the campaign.   

Standing in opposition to Pre-K 4 SA is a disorganized group of voters who seem to be cut from the same cloth as the TEA Party.  Like their TEA Party ancestors, they believe they are taxed enough already and question whether Pre-K 4 SA is another example of throwing money at a problem. 

Buried in the fine print of an Express-News article last week, I noticed a proponent claim that Bexar County spends $70 million a year maintaining its jail, and that a hoped-for benefit to Pre-K 4 SA is a reduction in jail costs (based on the students avoiding a life of crime).  The article did not have its intended effect on me because my principal take-away was that this program, despite its much ballyhooed $7.81 cost, was shockingly expensive – $31 million a year or $248 million over its eight-year duration.  Almost one half of the total operating costs of the county jail was going to be spent to add 4,000 kids to the pre-K program that was already marginally effective at helping 12,000 kids. 

An article in The Rivard Report today suggests that maybe the tide is turning.    The article is written by a teacher who questions whether Pre-K 4 SA is the smartest way to spend a lot of money.  That is what a lot of us are thinking.


1 Comment »

  1. Can ANYONE do arithmetic in this town? $7.81 x @ 400,000 households in San Antonio = $3.124 million, not $31 or $32 million. Granted, they aren’t all median income, but the point is the mid-point is expected to pay $7.81? Who’s going to pay the other $28 million?

    If you use the entire population of San Antonio @1.6 million x $7.81 = $12.5 million.

    The arithmetic as claimed in the ads is off by a factor of ten.

    As for the kind Judge’s OpEd, there were basically his feelings and his personal anecdotes/reflections from the bench. The logic for his position was completely non-existent. The only way his position holds ANY water is if he can show that no Bexar County prisoners had pre-K and that no youngsters that have pre-K go to jail.

    The facts continue to show that pre-K loses all advantage by third grade and has some significant disadvantages associated with it, beyond the extraordinary claimed costs of this program which does NOT have the details worked out, yet we are told to believe that it will be exceptional and the results will be outstanding.

    I read yesterday in the opposing OpEd (to the Judge’s) that the City doesn’t even know the names or addresses of the targeted, unserved youngsters, that the City simply knows they exist because of the latest census. How on Earth is this supposed to work? The parents don’t avail themselves of all the possible services today, but they will jump through more difficult and rigorous hoops to take advantage of this program? Who’s dreaming?

    Comment by Bob Bevard — October 9, 2012 @ 5:19 pm | Reply

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