New York City Just Made a Huge Move for Its Youngest Low-Income Students

April 25th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that it will offer publicly funded preschool to 3 year olds, greatly expanding the preschool program that's already in place.

The free preschool program will rollout for 3 year olds within four years, according to the New York Times. The current free program for 4 year olds was a major campaign promise for de Blasio in 2013. He called the success of the program proof that "Pre-k for All" can work.

“We have proven through the growth of 'Pre-k for All' that it can be done, and it can be done quickly,” de Blasio said at a press conference on Monday at an elementary school in the Bronx.

Although, New York is not the first city to implement a version of free preschool for 3 year olds, this expansion will make New York's program one of the biggest with an expected 62,000 kids a year. The Times reports that the program in Washington, D.C., enrolls 5,700 3 year olds.

Some people on Twitter were supportive of the mayor's move toward expanded universal preschool.

Others complained about the cost to taxpayers.


Preschool can be very expensive for parents as an ATTN: video reported in August 2016.

Preschool is way too expensive in America.

Posted by ATTN: on Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A report from January by non-profit Childcare Aware found that childcare is unaffordable for parents in 49 states and the District of Columbia, with Louisiana as the exception. Although, "free" programs are publicly funded, the cost of these programs if offset by mothers returning to work sooner, according to Childcare Aware's report. Moms who are able to receive childcare for their children earn an estimated $79,000 earnings increase over a lifetime. Working families lose nearly $29 billion in wages annually because they don't have childcare.

Beyond the cost of childcare, early education is important for children's educational development.

Early education is an important tool in decreasing the education gap associated with income inequality, wrote Elizabeth U. Cascio and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach in a 2014 report for the Brookings Institute.

"The most recent data available show that only about 50 percent of 4-year-old children in families in the lowest income quintile are enrolled in preschool," wrote the authors. "Among families in the top income quintile, on the other hand, the preschool enrollment rate of 4-year-olds is considerably higher, at 76 percent."

Research has shown that early education has a huge impact on students, with Cascio and Schanzenbach writing: "The research on early education has shown it improves participants’ outcomes across a variety of dimensions: higher school attendance rates, fewer failing grades, less grade retention, a higher likelihood of graduating from high school, and less involvement in criminal activity."

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