By SEAN EGAN
New York outshone all other states in enrollment and funding to state-funded preschools last year, due largely to the effort of New York City, according to the State of Preschools report released by the National Institute for Early Education Research on Thursday.
The report is published annually to give insight into how states provide for their “youngest and most vulnerable children,” according to NIEER Director Steve Barnett.
Barnett estimated that at the current rate it would take 50 years to enroll half the four-year-olds and 150 years to enroll 70 percent of 4-year-olds in pre-K. Enrollment has reached 1.4 million nationally.
“But most of that increase was accounted for by New York City,” he added. “Access to high quality public prek remains out of reach for most children.”
New York was altogether a different story. The state raised enrollment by 13 percent last year. Governor Cuomo Increased funding by $364 million, two thirds of the country’s overall funding increases last year, and added another $30 million this year to keep up the pace. In the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to raise preschool enrollment led to an increase of 50,000 full day preK slots for children in low income areas.
Mayor de Blasio basked in the spotlight at the press conference at a time when he is trying to extend mayoral control of the city’s schools, earlier this month making a pitch to Albany legislators. But the Senate Education Committee was lukewarm, citing ongoing federal probes into political fund-raising by his backers.
“We wanted to be straightforward with the people and tell our city that the only way we can start down a road of a bigger set of changes in our schools is to get right the foundational level and that was pre-K,” the mayor said.