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Mayors Convene In San Antonio To Talk Pre-K, Education

Ryan Loyd
TPR News
From left, Mayors Michael Hancock of Denver, Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, Angel Taveras of Providence, and Julián Castro speak with Pre-K 4 SA CEO Kathy Bruck during the MEET stop in San Antonio."

Four mayors are focusing their time in office on education. Because of that, they're touring each other's cities to learn new ideas.

Former NBA star, and now the mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson, walked the halls of Pre-K 4 SA's South Side model education center Friday. He told a panel consisting of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, Pre-K 4 SA CEO Kathy Bruck, and City Manager Sheryl Sculley, that he's jealous of San Antonio.

In November of 2012, voters approved Pre-K 4 SA that began its first year last fall with two model education centers. This year, the remaining two centers on the East and West sides will open.

"When you're jealous, it means that you're envying what somebody else is doing," Johnson joked. "So absolutely, we're talking about putting a team together that will come out to visit in San Antonio, meet with the mayor, meet with his team of people. But our goal is to certainly see if we can do something similar in Sacramento. That's why I was asking about the financing and the overall budget, and the different mechanisms for funding."

Since the overall theme of the project -- called the Mayors for Educational Excellence Tour (MEET) -- is education, the mayors came to San Antonio to specifically focus on early education. But they also spent time at Café College, the college readiness resource center that helps students prepare their applications for college.

The mayors participated in a town hall forum at St. Philip's College.

Denver already has a pre-K program, but Mayor Michael Hancock said it was implemented differently.

"We just tested the first batch of kids who went through the program," he said. "They're now entering 4th grade. We tested them in their third grade and they did phenomenally well on the test. We have a story to tell. Families are very much into the program and it's working well so far."

Despite their differences, the mayors agree pre-K is the best way to start a child off on their educational journey. Johnson said public schools have a long way to go, but it's clear to him that great cities have great schools.

Providence, R.I., Mayor Angel Taveras attended the tour in San Antonio, on its third leg. MEET began last fall. The fourth and final stop will be on Taveras' turf in Providence.

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