Says plan needs parental input in order to work
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The state’s ambitious, $300 million universal pre-kindergarten program needs more than money to make it work, according to one Brooklyn lawmaker.
Assemblyman Bill Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) issued a clarion call for parents to be fully engaged in the process as the state and city set up the pre-k classes.
“We must insist that both the state and the city keep their promises to ensure that this plan works," Colton said. "Parents need to be very watchful and insist on it happening. I am urging and calling on parents to be watchdogs to make sure that New York City establishes a high quality universal and full day pre-K program and implements this program correctly."
Among the things parents should be on the watch for, according to Colton: that the city government and the New York City Department of Education open up the seats for students, recruits certified teachers, allocates the space, and recruits children to fill the seats.
“If all these things are done, then we will have universal pre-k in New York City, which will bring about the true historic foundational changes all have been aspiring,” Colton
“It is important that New York City implements pre-kindergarten programs not on a partial basis, but as a universal foundational reform which will positively affect the greatest number of students in our city’s public school system. Educational experts and scientific studies have agreed that pre-k programs greatly improve the quality of learning for young children, and will provide a foundation that will continue to benefit students throughout their school careers,” Colton said.
Colton, who was a teacher or 11 years before he became a lawyer and went into politics, also explained how the state funding will come down to the city to enable the city to pay for the pre-k classes.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that the monies will be set aside, but Colton said the city will have to start up the programs for next September on its own. The city will then seek reimbursement from the state for spending the money to create and run the programs. Colton said Cuomo has promised that the state government will reimburse up to the full amount of the $300 million for the pre-k initiative.
In addition to the $300 million for pre-k, New York City will also receive an increase of $430 million in school aid, some of which can also be used to fund after-school programs.