Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today joined students, families, and educators to celebrate the culmination of the Pre-K for All expansion as part of a five-borough tour of schools to celebrate the first day of the 2015-16 public school year.
This year, the City is providing a free, full-day, high-quality pre-K seat for every child that applied. In total, 65,504 children are now registered to attend free, full-day, high-quality pre-K – a number more than triple the 20,000 children who attended before the Pre-K for All expansion and larger than the entire school population of major cities like Boston.
A large and growing body of research has decisively demonstrated that children enrolled in high-quality, full-day pre-K are better prepared to learn and be successful in later grades. New York City parents with children enrolled save an average of $10,000 in childcare costs and are better able to work and support a family.
“Today represents the fulfillment of a promise we made to the people of this city: that every child, regardless of their family’s means or the zip code they call home, will have access to a life-changing early education. Because of Pre-K for All, tens of thousands of children will do better in school, be more likely to graduate high school, and be better prepared for college and beyond,” said de Blasio. “And we are taking that same commitment to raising achievement at more than 100 Community Schools, to greater parental engagement, and to provide more professional development for our educators. Let’s take this energy and momentum and make this a phenomenal school year for all 1.1 million students in our city.”
Besides Pre-K for All, today also marks Opening Day for:
- 130 new Community Schools, which provide wraparound services like counseling, free eyeglasses, and additional tutoring to eliminate barriers to learning for at-risk students. This includes 94 Renewal Schools, which also all have extra academic support for struggling students, including an extra hour of time in class each day.
- 80 minutes each week of professional development to improve teacher quality.
- 40 minutes each week for teachers to meet and call parents, and keep them involved in their child’s education. In advance of the first day of school, organizers knocked on the doors of more than 35,000 parents whose children attend struggling schools, encouraging them to get involved.
- Approximately 40 new Dual Language programs to educate students to become bilingual and bicultural.
- 126 PROSE Schools, which employ innovations like small-group learning or flexibility in scheduling. The program has nearly doubled in size and is now serving roughly 48,500 students at all grade levels.
“This year, New York City schools continue to make progress by opening their doors to all pre-K students across the city. Along with their K-12 peers, these young scholars will be taught and supported by thousands of educators, dedicated to preparing all students through the DOE’s comprehensive education plan and increasing parental engagement. I look forward to seeing these students grow and commend the Chancellor and educators citywide for their continued commitment to excellence,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.
“Happy first day of school, Brooklyn! I am excited to visit classrooms across our borough in the months ahead to see our students’ creative and innovative energies at work. From the expansion of pre-kindergarten and our community schools to the enhancement of parental outreach and professional development for teachers, I am pleased to see the City’s focus on the holistic community approach we must take to advancing public education. We must be bold in exploring new pathways that will allow our students to soar in all aspects of their personal growth, and I look forward to working with Chancellor Fariña on making that possible,” said Borough President Eric Adams.
“Our students and teachers are going to have a great year. We have done the ground work – creating universal pre-K, and creating time in the school day for professional development and parent outreach. We are giving resources to our struggling schools and finding ways to celebrate excellence. We have put these pieces in place. We are doing the hard work. We are moving our schools forward. We are all going to have a great year,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers.
“Our members look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Fariña, and our dedicated teachers to ensure New York City’s 1.1 million public school students enjoy a productive academic year,” said Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan.
“On behalf of our members, I’m honored to join Chancellor Fariña in welcoming back our kids to a new school year. Our members are passionate and dedicated to helping children cross the street safely, eat breakfast and lunch, and get to class on time; and providing them the support they need to get through the school day. We look forward to collaborating with the Chancellor in supporting our kids and engaging parents. I look forward to creating a stronger partnership between our members and the administration so that we can make this school year outstanding,” said Shaun D. Francois, President of Local 372, District Council 37.
“The first day of school is always an exciting day here in New York City, and this year is even more invigorating. The success of the universal pre-K expansion throughout my district and our City will undoubtedly create a strong educational foundation for thousands of students this school year. I am proud to have supported the UPK program expansion and look forward to continued efforts to improve our schools and the learning of all of New York City’s 1.1 million students,” said Bay Ridge State Senator Marty Golden.
“The start of a new school year is always an exciting time for millions of students, parents, and educators across the City of New York. Under the leadership of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña, the New York City Department of Education has launched several initiatives that have expanded access to Pre-K and ensures that all students will receive a high-quality education. It is our shared responsibility as parents, educators, and community stakeholders to provide the resources and opportunities that will empower students for success within and beyond the classroom. As the next generation of leaders, it is critical that we continue to invest in their growth and development as competitive, global citizens,” said Fort Greene City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.
“It is with great delight that I join Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña to welcome back to class public school children across our great city. This year is particularly special given that thanks to the Pre-K for All expansion, the City has provided a free, full-day seat for all pre-K students who have applied. This means that three times as many of the youngest New Yorkers can be on their way to becoming scholastic stars. This will be a most positive development in our efforts to improve our public education system,” said East Flatbush Assembly Member Nick Perry.