Adding to a groundswell of concern over the New York City education department’s pending takeover of publicly funded preschool and daycare programs, all five borough presidents are calling on the city to scrap its plans and start over.
The borough leaders worry that the city’s changes will starve providers of funding, stifle access to supports such as social workers, and perpetuate salary disparities among pre-K teachers who work in community-based programs — which nearly sparked a strike earlier this month.
The city’s plans would “weaken the city’s social safety net, while greatly hindering the ability of community-based organizations to provide comprehensive early education programming to our city’s children,” states the letter, which was sent to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday. “This is unacceptable, and we urge you to immediately stop the implementation of the proposed changes.”
More than 70 early childhood providers have already made the same plea for a do-over, as has the city Comptroller, Scott Stringer.
The growing alarm clashes head-on with de Blasio’s praise of the city’s early childhood efforts on the campaign trail as he makes a long-shot bid for the presidency. It is also notable because the city needs the capacity provided by community providers to make Pre-K for All — the free, universal preschool program launched by the mayor — a reality.
At the heart of the concerns are new contracts recently released by the education department that fundamentally change the way programs receive funding and how they are overseen. Providers must bid on the contracts in order to receive public funding for programs like Pre-K for All.
Responses to the contracts are due in June, when the education department is set to take responsibility for publicly funded preschool and childcare programs for children as young as six-weeks-old.
You can read the borough presidents’ letter here.