Expert Weighs In On Pre-Kindergarten Benefit

(Memphis) In a proposal to increase the sales tax in Memphis, City Councilmen Shea Flinn and Jim Strickland want more than half of the funds to go to Pre-kindergarten programs.

“Why not invest early to prevent future problems,” said Doug Imig with The Urban Child Institute. Imig said the benefit of Pre-k is worth the cost.

“They arrive with stringer language and literacy skills. Their cognitive development is much stronger. Their ability to sit still and pay attention is higher and their self-confidence is higher,” said Imig.

And he said studies show the impact is long term.

“Kids who’ve had Pre-Kindergarten form families later.  In other words they are less likely to become teen parents. They’re more likely to graduate from high school; they are more likely to go to college,” said Imig.

Councilman Flinn said there is a need to almost double the number of Pre-K classes in Memphis.

“Currently about 30% of kids who reach will have either had access to Memphis City Schools Pre-kindergarten, Shelby County Head Start program or a combined classroom that offers a bit of both,” said Imig.

Memphis City Council members will have to approve the measure before voters get to have their say on the issue.