Parent credits Pre-K 4 SA for daughter's early academic success

Testing shows program significantly improves students' readiness

SAN ANTONIO – A first-of-its-kind state-funded childhood education program is gaining national attention since its introduction in San Antonio three years ago.

Pre-K 4 SA is giving many families access to early childhood learning that they didn't have before.

Jesse Quesada, whose daughter went through the program when it first started, said it prepped her well for kindergarten. Quesada said not a minute of learning was wasted.

"We would drop off our daughter and they would get them to work," he said. "They would put the bag up and they had a little activity going for them."

Pre-K 4 SA CEO Kathy Bruck said this type of accelerated curriculum works on learning skills adults need to have in the workplace. Things like getting along with others, conflict resolution, planning and evaluating your progress.

"Every day, the children plan first thing in the morning," Bruck said. "What they're going to do in their intra-centers and who they're going to work with and what they're going to get accomplished. And at the end of the day we follow up and say, 'Did you get done what you were supposed to do? Did you work with who you wanted to?' If it didn't work, why? And what are you going to do different tomorrow?"

In the three years the program has been in San Antonio, assessments have shown kids are speaking more fluently and closing the gap in oral language skills.

Pre-K 4 SA is funded through the state's sales tax.

Twenty percent of families that don't meet low-income standards pay their child's tuition.

"We have seven (school) districts that partner with us, most of the major districts in San Antonio -- Northside, North East, San Antonio, Harlandale, Edgewood, Southwest and Southside," Bruck said.

Laptops are in the classrooms, which is why Quesada believes his now first-grader is so tech-savvy.

"She was really excited whenever we turned on the computer, she wanted to get in there," he said. "And now, she is really good at working with computers at such a young age."

San Antonio's top-notch education program is setting an academic model for the rest of the country, Bruck said.

Pre-K 4 SA is offered for children from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m and is set to meet capacity next school year at 2,000 students.