Special Report
School & District Management

N.Y.C. Plows Forward on Pre-K Initiative

By Evie Blad — January 03, 2015 2 min read
The nation's largest school system more than doubled the number of full-day prekindergarten slots this school year, pressing to bring free pre-K to more than 70,000 eligible 4-year-olds.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

New York City’s ambitious push for universal prekindergarten for 4-year-olds is rooted in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2013 campaign platform, a pledge to ease income inequality by expanding opportunity for the city’s poorest children.

The city, which has 1.1 million students in its public school system, the nation’s largest, enrolled 53,000 4-year-olds in full-day prekindergarten slots this year by adding seats to programs in public schools and in community programs and by extending existing half-day spots.

That move, which more than doubled the number of available full-day spots, was the first phase of a two-year plan to bring free prekindergarten to the city’s 73,000 eligible 4-year-olds.

At a Glance

Size of Community: 8.4 million
Public Preschool Enrollment: 53,000 full-day students
Preschool Funding Level: $300 million in 2014-15
Ages Served: 4-year-olds
Type of Program: voluntary, full-day

“We are building a new and better foundation for our children and our city,” Mr. de Blasio said at a September press event. “This is a monumental moment in the lives of tens of thousands of children and their families.”

At a time when policymakers and children’s advocates have homed in on early education as a policy goal, New York City’s efforts have drawn attention—both for the scale of the expansion and for its speed. The expansion included summer training for about 4,000 teachers and assistant teachers and an advertising campaign to encourage parents to enroll their children.

Organizers faced hurdles, including criticism that the quick pace of the expansion led to cutting corners in areas like facilities, approval of contracts with private providers, and teacher preparedness. Days before the start of the school year, the city announced plans to cancel the opening of nine pre-K centers and to postpone the opening of 36 others because of facilities issues and other concerns.

Mayor de Blasio pitched the effort as a way of leveling the playing field for the city’s children and bridging the income gap between its poorest and richest residents.

He originally proposed funding the expansion by increasing taxes on the city’s highest earners, those with incomes greater than $500,000 a year. That plan was projected to bring in about $530 million for prekindergarten and after-school programs over five years.

State lawmakers refused to greenlight the tax proposal, instead allotting $340 million statewide for prekindergarten expansion for the 2014-15 school year. Of those funds, $300 million is going to New York City. That first year of funding is part of a statewide plan to allocate $1.5 billion over five years for prekindergarten programs.

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!


Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion We’re Facing a Looming Crisis of Principal Burnout
Caught in the crosshairs of a pandemic and rancorous partisan battles, many principals have never been more exhausted.
David E. DeMatthews
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration of burnt-out leader.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty
School & District Management What Teachers Value Most in Their Principals
For National Principals Month, we asked teachers what they love most about their principals. Here's what they had to say.
Hayley Hardison
1 min read
Illustration of job candidate and check list.
Getty
School & District Management How Staff Shortages Are Crushing Schools
Teachers are sacrificing their planning periods, students are arriving hours late, meals are out of whack, and patience is running thin.
11 min read
Stephanie LeBlanc, instructional strategist at Greeley Middle School in Cumberland Center, Maine.
Stephanie LeBlanc, an instructional strategist at Greely Middle School in Cumberland Center, Maine, has picked up numerous additional duties to help cover for staffing shortages at the school.
Ryan David Brown for Education Week
School & District Management With $102 Million in Grants, These Districts Plan to Train Principals With a Focus on Equity
The new grant program from the Wallace Foundation will help eight school districts work on building principals’ capacity to address equity.
11 min read
Image of puzzle pieces with one hundred dollar bill imagery
Getty