Some San Antonio business leaders are rallying their support behind Mayor Julian Castro's 'Pre-K 4 SA' Initiative.
Seven of the city's Chambers of Commerce, including the Greater, Hispanic, North, Black, South, West, and Women's Chambers, met at The Pearl off Grayson Street Thursday afternoon to make the announcement.
"Study after study shows that high quality, full day Pre-K programs reap tremendous investments. These college graduates that start out in Pre-K programs of this level of quality achieve economic success. They have a stronger propensity to get higher wages, higher income, and have stronger families," said Ramiro Cavazos, President of The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Bexar County voters are scheduled to vote on the Pre-K 4 SA initiative November 6th, and if approved the plan would max out the city's sales tax rate by raising it an eighth of a cent, which would cost the average four person household family around $7.81 a year.
"We can't afford to not support this initiative," said Doctor Yvonne Katz, President of the Women's Chamber of Commerce, "It's a pay me now or pay me later situation. Do you want to spend about $4,000 a student on the early childhood programs, or do you want to spend $40,000 to incarcerate them after they've dropped out and become criminals?"
Texas currently ranks 45th out of the 50 states in the nation in education, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, San Antonio ranks 60+ in literacy rates for large metropolitan areas, in addition to having one of the highest high school dropout rates in both the U.S. and Texas.
"We have a fantastic quality of life and economic development. We have a lot of great things going, but the challenge we still face is in the educational field. This will help us fill that gap and will allow us to have those educated workers of tomorrow that we also need as a business community," said Richard Perez, President of The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber members stressed the importance early education plays in literacy rates by the third grade, when students start taking standardized tests and should start reading to learn instead of learning to read.