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Mayor Castro Shares Lessons Learned On Pre-K 4 SA At U.S. Conference Of Mayors

Ryan Loyd
TPR News
Pre-K 4 SA Southside learning center.

The 82nd winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors is underway in Washington, D.C. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro traveled to the gathering after being asked to speak about early childhood education and how San Antonio implemented the Pre-K 4 SA initiative.

Castro spoke during the Childhood Obesity Prevention Awards Luncheon.

"I kind of feel like one of those announcers that says we interrupt this programming, because as much as we're focused at this lunch on developing the healthy bodies of our young people, I wanted to focus for just five minutes on developing great minds," he said as he opened his remarks.

"The best way to make sure that somebody gets ahead is to make sure they never get behind in the first place," he said.

Castro said a few years ago, he appointed the Brainpower Task Force to look at early childhood education, the middle years, and high school completion.

What they found, he said, was that the biggest difference could be made in the early years. Eventually, the initiative went to the voters who approved the program.

As part of what he has learned with the program, Castro said it takes a strong relationship between the business and education communities. He also said that the program needed to broaden the program to allow 10 percent of families who don't meet income guidelines to be a part of Pre-K 4 SA,

"The third thing was that we were very straightforward about telling folks in a simple way how much it would cost if you raise the sales tax one-eighth of a cent," he said. "We told them that for the median household, that would be $7.81 every year."

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings responded to Castro's message at the beginning of his speech.

"What you're doing with early childhood education is a great example for all of us," he said. "It's something we're studying hard and it's something I think we should all take very seriously."

Dallas will host a summer Conference of Mayors gathering in June.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.