AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation has published a new education report, Pre-Kindergarten Effectiveness and the San Antonio Initiative, that finds the city of San Antonio’s pre-kindergarten initiative to be a poor investment of taxpayer funds.

In November, San Antonio residents will vote on an initiative that would increase local sales tax by 1/8 of a cent, resulting in a 1.5 percent increase in sales taxes, to fund four large pre-kindergarten centers.

“Should the initiative pass, per student spending will be around $15,000, much higher than the average cost of pre-kindergarten in the city’s schools,” said James Golsan, policy analyst for the Foundation’s Center for Education Policy. “Our research concludes that this increased spending does not represent a sound academic or fiscal investment.”

“There are already widespread public pre-kindergarten and numerous private pre-kindergarten options available in San Antonio,” said Jeff Judson, co-author of the report and Director and Senior Fellow with the Heartland Institute. “A duplicative program of this type would be a poor use of taxpayer funds.”

Research examining pre-kindergarten’s long-term effects shows mixed results at best. According to the report, while pre-kindergarten can improve kindergarten readiness and potentially enhance academic performance in the lower grades, once the student clears the lower grade levels, the academic benefits of pre-kindergarten dissipate, a phenomenon researchers have dubbed the “fade-out effect.”

Read the policy brief in its entirety here.


James Golsan is an education policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin.

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