PRESS RELEASE: Long Island Assemblymembers See Need for Pre-K

PRESS RELEASE: Long Island Assemblymembers See Need for Pre-K

March 4, 2016 Legislative & Political Updates

Blanca A Villanueva
Community Organizer
Alliance for Quality Education and Long Island Progressive Coalition
blanca@aqeny.org / 631-918-3112

LONG ISLAND (March 4, 2016) – The Alliance for Quality Education and Long Island Progressive Coalition were joined by Assemblymembers Phil Ramos and Kimberly Jean-Pierre in a day-long “Pre-K Tour” stopping at Brentwood, Central Islip, and Copiague pre-K sites. The tour is a continuing effort to raise awareness for the importance and need of more state-funded full-day pre-k on Long Island. Brentwood, Central Islip and Copiague are three of the many school districts that recognize the need of pre-k in their community but must face the obstacle of competitive grants each year in order to receive funding.

The benefits of investing in quality pre-K is exponential. Children do better in school, go to college and earn higher income.  When communities have more economic activity; there is less crime, more stable families, and successful schools. For every dollar invested in quality full day pre-K, taxpayers can see a return of $8. Without the investment in quality early learning programs students will already be behind their peers starting kindergarten.

While the importance of investing in a quality early learning programs is clear, there are still students without a full day pre-K seat. Outside of New York City in 2015-16, 89,587 four year olds have no full-day pre-K. In high need districts on Long Island, 74 percent of four-year olds do not have full-day pre-K. Long Island school districts have a need and want for UPK but each year they must compete against each other in competitive grants. There are currently six different pre-K programs with six different requirements. This year Governor Cuomo proposed $22 million for three year olds only. This would be the seventh program, which would exclude four-year-olds.

Read the Alliance for Quality Education’s latest report on pre-K on Long Island.

“It’s time we invest in all of our children,” said Assemblywomen Kimberly Jean-Pierre. “We want what’s best for our children, and giving them an early start will put them on the path to success. As a parent, I support making universal pre-K available in all communities across Long Island. Early education is a key component to the development and growth of our children.”

“The benefits of a quality pre-K education are clear,” said Jasmine Gripper, Legislative Director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “But for the past two years, Long Island and other parts of the state have had to battle for pre-K funding. This has to stop. Pre-K is essential for our children’s future success. Therefore, pre-K must be funded fully in Long Island and throughout the state.”

“There is a need and a want for access to full day pre-K. It not only lessens the inequality gap but helps working parents who cannot afford childcare. As a full-time working mother to a two-year-old I want the best for my child and starting with a quality early learning program will set her up to succeed,” said Lisa Tyson Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “All children deserve access to full-day pre-K.”

“Pre-K education for our students is vital in helping poor and economically disadvantaged students narrow the academic achievement gap. Through pre-K our students are able to develop a solid foundation particularly in gaining skills in reading, writing, and understanding concepts in math which are the foundation for them to be successful as they move through the various grades,” said Dr. Levi McIntyre, Brentwood Superintendent of Schools. “Pre-K is also a benefit for our parents who can go to work with the peace of mind, knowing that their precious child is in a safe and secure environment while receiving instruction.”

“In a few short years these children will be adults, your neighbors. A small investment today will ensure an equal education for all children through Universal pre-K. It is imperative that our schools provide a solid foundation for our youngest learners to be shaped so they will become productive citizens in our society. Universal pre-K lays that solid foundation so our children will have every opportunity to thrive and proceed up the academic ladder towards success through their formative years and into adulthood,” said Dr. Craig Carr, Central Islip Superintendent of Schools.

Jeanette Altruda, Copiague School District Assistant Cuperintendent of Curriculum and Instructions
said, “The Copiague Public School District is very excited to offer a full-day UPK program to our community.  The opportunity for our youngest students to be engaged in a literacy rich, mathematics infused curriculum will go far in helping our students to reach their greatest potential.”
“The case for pre-K is clear and convincing: quality early education can actually change children’s life trajectory.  No wonder school officials are eager to add pre-K services and parents are calling to find a seat.  Now state officials must make good on their promise to make pre-K truly universal and step up with the funding to make it happen,” said Betty Holcomb, Policy Director at Center for Children’s Initiatives.  “The promise was to fund districts that come forward with a plan, but that promise has not be kept.  This year alone over 74 high need school districts applied for funding to expand pre-K for three and four year olds, but funding was only sufficient to support 34 of these districts.  Nearly 90,000 four year olds statewide still lack a seat.  It’s time for state officials to keep the promise.  Too many children are left behind.”

“Research has shown the benefits of pre-K programs in laying a foundation in the critical skills essential for later school success. Here at Shepard’s Gate, we’ve had the added advantage of growing from a half-day pre-K program to one that is full-day. This has opened up more learning opportunities for our students. Our teachers and staff encourage our children to be creative and learn by exploring the world around them. The expanded pre-K program is enriching each of our students and putting them on the road to educational success,” said Joseph R. Valentino of Shepherds Gate Academy in Brentwood.

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