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De Blasio touts pre-k initiatives while touring Sunset Park

Mayor Bill de Blasio. AP Photo/Richard Drew

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Mayor Bill de Blasio urged parents to take advantage of free, high-quality, full-day pre-kindergarten programs while touring an Early Childhood Education Center in Sunset Park Tuesday.

“Right now, parents are thinking about the summer ahead—but we want anyone with a child turning four years old to be thinking about September,” said the Mayor. “There are more options right in your community to apply for pre-K than ever before. It’s free. It’s easy. But to have the best chance of finding the right program, we are encouraging every parent to apply today.”

As part of the historic expansion of pre-K to all four-year olds, the City will provide a record 53,000 seats this September in both public schools and CBECCs. Over the next two weeks, the Department of Education will make major announcements, including:

  • Right now: 15,000 high-quality, full-day pre-K seats in Community-Based Early Childhood Centers are open for application for September. Parents can apply or learn more at nyc.gov/prek.
  • May 30: 10,000 more pre-K seats in Community-Based Early Childhood Centers will be announced as part of the City’s expansion plan. Parents can apply starting Friday.
  • June 5: Parents who applied for pre-K in public schools will be notified about placement offers by the City. If parents do not receive an offer from a school in their community, they are encouraged to apply for high-quality CBECC options.

To make sure every parent knows how and where to apply, the City is placing $600,000 in ads in English and Spanish in newspapers, on radio and online, as well as on subways, buses and bus shelters. The ads feature the slogan “Opportunity Starts Now” and urge parents to apply by June 26th. All New York City children turning four this year are eligible for free, high-quality pre-K.

To find a free pre-K in your neighborhood and receive alerts and information, visit nyc.gov/prek or text 877-877.

Minutes after concluding the presser, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Councilman Carlos Menchaca and a handful of aides, school officials and bodyguards, walked to the lower level of the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association. It’s one of the “community-based organizations” offering prekindergarten and Head Start classes, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Awaiting them was a roomful of mostly 4- and 5-year-olds doing what 4- and 5-year-olds do: singing, playing house, doing learning projects, etc. The setup was an oversized room with several different classes taking place simultaneously.

Hizzoner’s first stop was the room’s southeast corner, where about two dozen greeted him: “Good afternoon, Mr. Mayor!” Teachers Jennifer Lam, Shirley Luna and Eunice Chan helped the children as they presented him with a multicolored oak-tag-size poster (“Dear Mayor, Welcome to BCA UPK!” it says), decorated with blue, yellow, pink and other-colored butterflies.

The curious youngsters, many of whose families speak Mandarin Chinese at home, warmly encircled Mayor de Blasio as he marveled at their handiwork.  The 6-foot-5-and-7/8ths mayor had plopped down into familiar territory for a #upknyc visit: the child-sized plastic chair.

“This is so cool!” the mayor said, looking over their poster. “You guys made this?”

Nods.

“See what people can do in pre-k?” the Mayor asked, to collective laughter. “That’s amazing! Excellent!”

Matthew Chayes of Newsday contributed reporting to this article as part of a pooled press report.

May 28, 2014 - 3:30pm


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