Mayor Julian Castro continues his push for his Pre-K 4 SA initiative at every opportunity. Monday, he spoke to the West San Antonio Chamber of Commerce about educational challenges the city faces.
He told business leaders that San Antonio is a rapidly growing city with educational challenges that will only grow more with the population increase.
Over bacon and scrambled eggs, he said Texas and San Antonio repeatedly ranks in the bottom-tier of educational achievement. "The challenge for San Antonio is that we can't abide by that anymore in the 21st Century," he said.
Castro said an estimated 64 percent of jobs will require something more than a high school diploma, but skeptics have responded to the early education initiative, saying the city should not involve itself in the business of education.
Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff and State Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio (both former city councilmen) say the initiative goes beyond the confines of a city council. Wolff has also expressed concern that people who would contribute to the one-eighth of a cent sale increase would not benefit from the program due to boundary restrictions, or because only children who meet certain criteria would be able to participate in the program.
However, Castro said the city has long involved itself with education programs through the city library system, the after school challenge program, the education partnership, and Café College.
He noted that 35 years ago, then-Mayor Lila Cockrell stepped out on a limb for economic development, even though it is not a specified part of the city charter that gives the city the authority to regulate that area.
"Even though the charter didn't say do economic development, they did it," said Castro. "And because of that there's Toyota; there's a whole host of other companies in San Antonio providing great jobs. We need to be bold in 2012 as well."
Depending on what source you believe, said Castro from the podium at the Cesar Chavez Double Tree Hotel, drop-out rates in Texas are as high as 40 percent. He said people cannot abide by that in this day and age.
By changing the education trajectory, he continued, San Antonio will step boldly into an area that many doubt, but one that he says will change the course of history in the city.
He says too many children are not getting the education they need. I'm asking you, he said, to take a look at what's on the table and to make the right decision.