Dear Commons Community,
Yesterday was the first day of prekindergarten for more than 51,000 children across New York City. It was the start of a vast and ambitious expansion of prekindergarten in the City’s schools.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, elected on promises of fighting income inequality, trumpeted the expansion of prekindergarten as a crucial step in leveling the playing field among children and declared it his first priority. He pushed to expand the system, more than doubling it in eight months. As reported in the New York Times:
“On Thursday, all that planning sprang to life as tens of thousands of 4-year-olds poured into freshly painted classrooms adorned with letters and numbers.
“President Kennedy said, quote, ‘Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education,’ ” Mr. de Blasio said. “It’s as simple as that. Until we get education right, we can’t get the rest of the equation right. Today is a huge step forward for getting education right in this city.”
The city’s preschool program, which is by far the largest of its kind in the country, will be closely watched by educators, advocates and others who argue that quality public school programs for 4-year-olds are critical to improving the academic outcomes for children whose families cannot afford private alternatives.
And how the city’s program fares this year will be crucial for Mr. de Blasio, who plans to expand the program next year to 70,000 prekindergarten seats, enough for every 4-year-old in the city, and will need the support of lawmakers in Albany.”
Congratulations to Mr. de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina. This is real education reform and a breath of fresh air from the “test till you drop” policies of the last twelve years.