Making Pre-K Truly Universal in New York State

The Campaign for Educational Equity (CEE) and the Center for Children’s Initiatives (CCI) released a new proposal today that offers New York State a clear and responsible roadmap for boosting children’s educational and social success through wise investments in pre-K.  Informed by consultations with more than 100 public education and early childhood experts, advocates, teachers, and administrators across the state, the proposal draws on lessons learned in other states along as well as recommendations from leading national researchers and education economists.

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Over eight years, our plan will expand access to pre-K services for three and four year olds while establishing pre-K, like kindergarten, as a core part of New York State’s education system and linking funding to high-quality standards, with the goal of eliminating early opportunity gaps and boosting long-term educational outcomes. “Access to high-quality, full-day pre-K is an important component of the opportunity for a sound basic education that New York’s highest court has declared to be the right of every child in New York State,” said Michael Rebell, executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equity.

Arriving just months after President Obama and the U.S. Department of Education’s recently announced plan for a ten-year, $10 billion investment in public preschool programs, our plan expands the groundbreaking pre-K program initiated by State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in 1997 (but which is currently available only to four-year olds and only on a half-day basis).

The proposal also builds on the pre-K competitive-grant program that Governor Cuomo introduced earlier this year, committing to serving several thousand more four-year olds in high-quality full-day programs. The governor’s New NY Education Reform Commission, nudged by commission member Michael Rebell and others, called earlier this year for a “seamless pipeline” of educational services from birth, including full-day prekindergarten, as the next strategic and equitable step toward educational excellence and preparing New York’s children for college and careers. Like the Commission, we know that research shows that the near-term as well as long-term benefits for children, schools, taxpayers, and communities far exceed the cost.

Read the proposal and stay tuned for more blog posts about this exciting plan to strengthen New York by ensuring all children the early learning opportunities they need and deserve.

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