Sales tax increase would fund pre-K - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Sales tax increase would fund pre-K

(WMC-TV) - In less than 24 hours, there will be a big vote whether to increase sales taxes for every person who lives, works, and plays in the City of Memphis. The money would be used to fund pre-K for 4,500 children.

A local study on pre-K shows the impact of pre-K on Memphis children by comparing and contrasting their progress through third grade. Many studies show a district's third grade literacy rate is an indication of the incarceration rate.

Some Memphis residents are adamantly against a sales tax hike.

"They seem like they're grabbing in desperation from people who least can afford to support the city," said Memphis resident Alan Scott.

Others say funding pre-K with tax revenues uplifts the city.

"It's a really good learning experience for kids because you do certain activities and they show you how to be really creative," said Memphis resident Derecco Allen.

Doctor Doug Imig of the Urban Child Institute says the Impact of Memphis City Schools Pre-K study shows those with access to pre-k get a boost.

"They're much more likely to be reading at grade level by the end of fourth grade. They're much less likely to have a truancy problem through middle school when kids start to become a little sketchy about going to school," said Imig.

The study found Memphis students in pre-K had higher TCAP scores than those without pre-k access, and that pre-K also meant higher scores in every grade. The study also says pre-k reduces the academic achievement gap between low and middle-income students.

"Pre-kindergarten helps to remediate some of the consequences of growing up in poverty," said Imig.

Kiera Merriweather wished she had access to pre-K.

"Maybe I could have learned a little bit more growing up," she said.

Some say people who live outside of the city should not shoulder the burden of educating Memphis children. Others say a better public education system helps America compete on a global level.

The council will vote on the sales tax hike Tuesday.

For the full Memphis City Schools pre-K study, click here. For a summary by Memphis City Schools, click here. For a local and national findings, click here.

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