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Making Strides for Preschool

Black news from Pasadena - Commentary - Funding preschoolNew York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ran on a campaign to fund full-day public preschool for all New York City children through a modest increased income tax on residents making more than $500,000 a year. Although Mayor de Blasio's tax proposal was not approved by the state legislature or supported by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the legislature did approve statewide funding for pre-K that included a $300 million increase for New York City's preschool program.

This means that for the first time fully funded full-day quality preschool will be available for all four-year-olds in the city. New York City is moving forward for children – and it isn't the only major city or and school district making such progress.

The Boston Public Schools system (BPS) offers a full day of prekindergarten to any four-year-old in the district regardless of income, although funding limitations prevent the district from serving all eligible children. BPS ensures the quality of its prekindergarten program through high-quality teachers, professional development delivered through individualized coaching sessions, and evidence-based curricula for early language and literacy and mathematics. Prekindergarten teachers have the same requirements as K-12 teachers in BPS and are paid accordingly. And it's working. A study conducted by researchers at Harvard's Graduate School of Education examined the impact of one year of attendance in the BPS preschool program on children's school readiness and found substantial positive effects on children's literacy, language, mathematics, emotional development, and executive functioning.

Tulsa is another city making great strides. Oklahoma has offered universal preschool to four-year-olds since 1998. In the 2011-2012 school year, three-quarters of all four-year-olds in the state were enrolled in the preschool program. High-quality year-round programs are also available to some at-risk Tulsa children from birth through age three through the Community Action Project (CAP) of Tulsa County, which combines public and private funds to provide comprehensive services for the youngest and most vulnerable children.

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