As New York City schools open for a new academic year, over 50,000 four year olds are now attending public pre-kindergarten. After receiving $300 million of funding for new programs in March, Mayor de Blasio and his administration faced both logistical and political obstacles, specifically securing space for the new classrooms.
Despite difficulties surrounding the plan, it was initially met with much approval when proposed in January: nearly three out of four New Yorkers supported increasing taxes on the wealthy to raise funding for a universal pre-kindergarten program. Specifically enthusiastic about de Blasio’s proposal were African-American voters: 71 percent approved, compared to 53 percent of all voters. While concerns about the expansion lingered as New York City schools opened – especially as the city canceled or postponed the opening of 45 programs – pre-k has seen a generally smooth rollout.
Direct Service Implications
Pre-kindergarten programs have been shown to foster increased cognitive and academic development, putting those who attend pre-kindergarten at an advantage when entering elementary school compared to their peers who did not attend. Aside from promoting stronger reading skills and higher test scores, the benefits of pre-kindergarten are seen beyond elementary school years into adolescence and adulthood.
As the city’s pre-kindergarten program expands, more spaces will become available as an additional 15,000 spaces are expected to open by fall 2015. Visit the City’s Pre-K website for more information and to direct clients to enrollment information.
Courtesy of McSilver Institute of Poverty Policy and Research who has kindly given SJS permission to syndicate this piece.
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