The period of registration for public Pre-kindergarten programs, from March 4 until April 5th, marks an important time for parents in New York City hoping to enroll their 4-year-old children into an early educational program. But according to a report released by New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio last week, children may not have the access to these programs that parents think they will.
According to the report, the number of applicants is far from equal to the amount of available seats in Pre-K programs across the boroughs.
“The shortage of high-quality, full-time Pre-K seats is hurting thousands of families in every borough,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We can’t continue to be a city where only a fraction of our kids has access to early education, and where working parents have to roll the dice every year and hope they’re lucky enough to secure a seat.”
Last year, there were over 15,000 applicants for less than 5,000 seats in Manhattan Pre-K programs. The report also showed that in Brooklyn, while 33,602 families applied for a seat, there were only 8,169 seats available.
De Blasio, who announced his candidacy for New York mayor in January, has been passionate about reforming education and after-school programs since his position on School Board District 15 in Brooklyn in 1999. He announced in February that one of his mayor platforms will be education.
In October of 2012, he proposed a plan that would “close a gap of 48,000 children” who receive inadequate part-time Pre-K or are not enrolled in a program at all in an effort to create a universal Pre-K system.
His proposal, “Startying Early, Learning Longer,” calls for an increase on the tax surcharge from 3.86 percent to 4.3 percent on New Yorkers who earn $500,000 or more. These increases would provide the revenue to expand and reform the city’s Pre-K system.
Most recently, de Blasio wrote to the Obama administration after Obama announced his plan to expand Pre-K programs across the United States during his State of the Union address. De Blasio urged the Department of Education to partner directly with cities in implementing their expansion of the programs.De Blasio stresses the importance of accessible Pre-K programs in the letter. “Our nation can no longer afford to ignore the economic and educational gains of quality early education,” he wrote.