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

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
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.
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
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls

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 'It Has to Be a Priority': Why Schools Can't Ignore the Climate Crisis
Schools have a part to play in combating climate change, but they don't always know how.
16 min read
Composite image of school building and climate change protestors.
Illustration by F. Sheehan/Education Week (Images: iStock/Getty and E+)
School & District Management Some Districts Return to Mask Mandates as COVID Cases Spike
Mask requirements remain the exception nationally and still sensitive in places that have reimposed them.
4 min read
Students are reminded to wear a mask amidst other chalk drawings on the sidewalk as they arrive for the first day of school at Union High School in Tulsa, Okla., Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.
Chalk drawings from last August remind students to wear masks as they arrive at school.
Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP
School & District Management Women Get Overlooked for the Superintendent's Job. How That Can Change
Three female superintendents spell out concrete solutions from their own experience.
4 min read
Susana Cordova, former superintendent for Denver Public Schools.
Susana Cordova is deputy superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District and former superintendent for Denver Public Schools.
Allison V. Smith for Education Week
School & District Management Opinion You Can't Change Schools Without Changing Yourself First
Education leaders have been under too much stress keeping up with day-to-day crises to make the sweeping changes schools really need.
Renee Owen
5 min read
conceptual illustration of a paper boat transforming into an origami bird before falling off a cliff
wildpixel/iStock/Getty