Analyst: Derek Kulnis
October 25, 2016
On October 6, 2016 New York City hosted the first ever Pre-K for All Cities Learning Lab. The day-long event featured policy makers and educators from twelve other cities, including Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, San Antonio, Tulsa and Seattle, in an effort to share insights from New York City’s rollout of its universal Pre-K program, which launched in late 2014.
Eliza Shapiro explains in Politico New York that “the city has distinguished itself among the growing number of cities offering pre-K for the scope of the program — there is a seat available for every 4-year-old — and its dramatic growth from 20,000 full-day seats to 53,000 in a year. The program now has more than 70,000 seats.”
The meeting worked to “establish a national network of cities dedicated to providing high-quality pre-kindergarten education to students” and to push back against conservative criticisms of universal pre-K programs by gathering data and best practices from cities across the country who were already offering pre-K for all or who were rolling out their own programs soon.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was quoted in Education Week as saying that “municipal governments must work together to share best practices and lessons learned, and this summit is an essential step in building a strong network of policymakers who, together, will continue to advocate for expanded access to quality early education for every child nationwide.”
A press release distributed by the city stated that “prior to the start of Pre-K for All, 19,287 four-year-olds were enrolled in full-day pre-K in New York City; in the 2015-16 school year, enrollment was 68,647. As of the first day of the 2016-17 school year, over 70,400 children were registered for free, full-day, high quality pre-K.”
Sarah Beray, the chief executive officer of Pre-K for SA in San Antonio, noted that the meeting included discussions of “‘quality versus access,’ research findings, program structure, and garnering political support for more city-based early education efforts,” according to Christina Samuels in Education Week.
An article by Rebecca Klein in The Huffington Poststated that “as of 2014-2015, only about 29 percent of the nation’s 4-year olds were enrolled in a state-funded preschool program.”
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