As the news cycle adjusts to a post-election world, one important election result that should not be overlooked is a measure approved by San Antonio voters last week to expand all-day prekindergarten for young children.
The result of a year-long planning process led by Mayor Julián Castro, the Brainpower Initiative will raise the local sales tax by an eighth of a cent to enhance the pre-K educational experience for the city’s estimated 20,000 four-year-olds through several new pre-K centers. Community leaders from various sectors came together to rally support for the measure, winning the endorsements of San Antonio’s seven largest chambers of commerce and all of its living mayors.
“San Antonio spoke very clearly that we’re not just thinking about the next two years, we’re thinking about the next 20 years,” Mayor Castro said. “We’ve sent a message as a community that we’re going to invest in our young people so that we continue to be an economically vibrant city that attracts the jobs of the 21st century global economy.”
In developing the Brainpower Initiative, San Antonio drew upon the experience of cities such as Seattle and Denver, which have also passed tax levies to support high-quality early education. For instance, Seattle’s Families and Education Levy has directed millions of dollars toward a wide array of programs serving children and youth since 1990. Many of these peer-to-peer connections were made through NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families, which has worked with the City of San Antonio for more than a decade to promote quality early learning opportunities.
The Brainpower Initiative will support San Antonio’s intensive focus on early learning as a strategy for bolstering children’s academic potential as well as the city’s economic development and quality of life. Its supporters believe that it will not only raise student achievement levels, but also anchor existing business in the city and attract new, high-paying jobs.