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Updated September 5, 2018
Emanuel touts pre-kindergarten, but will his envisioned $175 million initiative survive him?
Emanuel’s $20 million plan this year offers 3,700 free pre-K seats to low-income families and will boost the number steadily until every 4-year-old has access to pre-K.
Tennessee Votes 2018
July 9, 2018
Here’s how Tennessee’s Republican candidates for governor answer the big questions on education
Chalkbeat asked Republican candidates about their own educational experiences, the future of TNReady testing, whether to offer private school vouchers, and more.
March 26, 2018
Nonprofit charged with getting Memphis’ youngest students kindergarten-ready says city’s $6 million is just the start
The city of Memphis recently pledged $6 million for pre-kindergarten seats. But it's just a drop in the bucket of a $40 million pre-K plan.
September 19, 2017
Who benefits from Head Start? Kids who attend — and their kids, too
It’s the latest signal that a substantial investment in early childhood education, particularly when paired with well-funded K-12 schools, can have long-lasting benefits.
August 22, 2016
Tennessee preschool selected as national model for fixing racial discipline gap
A Nashville preschool is one of two schools nationwide selected for $1 million grants, the U.S. Department of Education announced last week.
March 21, 2016
Six months after sobering study, bill to up pre-K quality heads to governor’s desk
State lawmakers unanimously pass a bill designed to make pre-K classrooms stronger.
November 23, 2015
Memphis Head Start leaders seek iPad investment for district’s littlest hands
The proposed purchase of 500 iPads for Head Start students would be a first-of-its-kind technology investment for pre-K students in Shelby County Schools.
November 18, 2015
Power of pre-K gets boost from new report countering Vanderbilt study
States should raise the quality of pre-K programs and make early childhood development a priority, says a new report by leaders of the Southern Regional Education Board.
September 24, 2015
Educators, researchers grapple with future of pre-kindergarten in Tennessee
A panel convened by Vanderbilt's Peabody College of Education discusses what it would take to have high-quality pre-kindergarten programs across the state.
August 25, 2015
‘Opportunity Lost’ author on poverty, race and the biggest challenges in transforming Memphis schools
In a Q&A with Chalkbeat, educator and author Marcus Pohlmann talks about the impact of race, poverty and funding on schools in Memphis and Shelby County.
July 2, 2015
Coalition's ambitious goal: improve and expand preschool in Indiana
The ultimate goal of the plan, advocates say, is to prepare the state for the possibility that a statewide preschool program could be widely expanded soon.
path to pre-k
March 17, 2015
Buery defends pre-K prayer breaks as city celebrates enrollment kickoff
The city says almost 22,000 pre-K applications are in on day two. Meanwhile, a top official said a "strict separation" of church and state will be maintained.
June 5, 2014
62 percent of applicants get a public-school pre-K match, but many left waiting
The city began the complicated process of assigning next year’s pre-kindergarten students to seats on Thursday, telling 19,689 families that their child had landed a…
April 24, 2014
Applications for school-based pre-K up 36 percent, city says
Applications for public school pre-kindergarten are up 36 percent over last year, the Department of Education announced Thursday. Overall, 41,603 applications came in for seats in…
April 14, 2014
Shelby County Schools to ask commission to fund pre-K, capital needs
As Shelby County Schools prepares to finalize its 2014-15 budget, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson II said he may ask the commission to fund a portion of…
March 20, 2014
What my family got out of daycare that public pre-K could provide
A mother says she hopes the city's expansion of pre-kindergarten will provide the same kind of insight into child development, strategies to try at home, and dynamic social atmosphere that her children's daycare offered.
the path to pre-k
January 28, 2014
King says statewide pre-K would cost far more than Cuomo budgeted
Expanding pre-kindergarten access across New York State would cost more in a single year than Gov. Andrew Cuomo has budgeted for five years, state schools chief John King said today. The estimate provides yet more fodder for the ongoing debate over how to fund universal pre-K.
January 27, 2014
During hearing, de Blasio's pre-K gatekeepers scrutinize his plan
Lawmakers wanted to know why Mayor Bill de Blasio needed new taxes to pay for something that could be covered by the state, pointing to an alternative funding proposal that Gov. Andrew Cuomo floated last week. And several asked why charter schools have been absent from the proposal's details, with a Bronx senator threatening to withhold his support over the issue.
threading the needle
January 15, 2014
De Blasio leaves the door open for charter pre-K's
Confronting an issue that brings two of his signature education policies into tension, Mayor Bill de Blasio signaled today that he is at least open to seeing charter schools receive state funding for pre-kindergarten.
December 20, 2013
Pre-K campaign kickoff continues with a new video
The official campaign for universal pre-kindergarten that Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio launched on Thursday got its first lobbying video today, seen above. The video highlights support…
August 30, 2013
De Blasio and Quinn line up lawmakers in pre-K squabble
The mayoral campaigns of Bill de Blasio and Christine Quinn have each sent out press releases today touting legislative support for their positions on de…
August 26, 2013
As candidates squabble over universal pre-K funds, a fact check
Chancellor Dennis Walcott read to a group of 4-year-olds at the Bank Street Head Start center in November 2011. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten fueled mayoral candidate Bill Thompson's attacks on Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's plan to fund universal pre-kindergarten, calling Thompson a "doer" and de Blasio an idealist. "We need a mayor in the city of New York who will take this idea and actually get it done and not base it on a tax that may never materialize," Weingarten said during a call with reporters that the Thompson campaign arranged. Since last week, Thompson and his allies have been criticizing de Blasio's plan, which would raise taxes on New Yorkers earning over $500,000 a year to fund universal pre-K. They say de Blasio's plan relies too much on approval from Albany and does not consider that the state doesn't even use all of the state pre-K funding that it gets. Their first point is a fair one. De Blasio's plan would require legislative approval, a step he says would come readily but which could be a heavy lift. The New York Times cited this shortcoming to explain why it did not endorse de Blasio. But on the second point, about the unused state funding, Thompson's campaign's math does not add up. Calculating the true cost of expanding pre-K to all city 4-year-olds is a challenging task, pre-K advocates say, but no matter how the numbers are crunched, they suggest that the city would need more funding.
August 19, 2013
State senator finds holes in de Blasio's plan for universal pre-K
From the office of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio State Sen. Diane Savino accused mayoral candidate and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio today of not understanding the legal issues behind providing universal pre-kindergarten to New York City students. De Blasio has proposed taxing households that make more than $500,000 to fund full-day pre-K for all New York City children. The senator, who spoke on a conference call set up by Bill Thompson's campaign team, said creating universal pre-K in the city is not a matter of getting more money, but rather changing laws in Albany. "Either Bill [de Blasio] doesn't know how we fund universal pre-K or he’s just pandering. Because the fact is we don’t need to spend more money on this program," she said.
August 14, 2013
About that “major education announcement” de Blasio promised
DE BLASIO TO RENEW CALL FOR TAX ON WEALTHY TO FUND UNIVERSAL PRE-K, CONTRAST WITH SPEAKER QUINN’S PLAN TO SADDLE MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES WITH…
February 6, 2013
With mixed messages, charter school backers lobby lawmakers
Harriet Tubman Charter School students were among several groups to visit Bronx Assemblyman Erik Stevenson's office on Tuesday. When elected officials visit schools in their district, they generally follow a scripted routine. They cut ribbons, make speeches, and smile for pictures. When the roles are reversed — as they were on Tuesday, when hundreds of charter school parents, students, and teachers convened in Albany to lobby lawmakers — the conversations aren't always so predictable. Some of the charter school advocates stuck to talking points determined in advance by the lobby day's organizers. The New York City Charter Center and the New York Charter School Association want the legislature to give charter schools the right to operate pre-kindergarten programs, something state law currently precludes. The agenda is a response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to give $25 million to district schools that offer more full-day pre-K seats. But in interviews and individual meetings with lawmakers, students and parents spoke about education issues that affected them personally. Almost all said they love the schools they attend, but they expressed concerns about their schools' safety, space, and resources. One parent from an upstate charter school said her child's special needs were not being adequately addressed.
February 5, 2013
Eyeing Cuomo's grants, charter sector sees a pre-K opportunity
Charter schools want to piggyback on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to expand pre-kindergarten across the state. But in order to benefit from Cuomo's $25 million in pre-K grants, the schools first must win the right to offer pre-K classes. Pushing for that right is at the top of charter school supporters' agenda today as they convene in Albany as part of the charter sector's annual advocacy day. The parents will meet in the Albany Convention Center with more than a dozen legislators, then spend the rest of the day visiting their district representatives. They're not the only ones lobbying lawmakers over pre-K this week. On Monday, police chiefs, principals, and education groups from around the state declared their support for Cuomo's pre-K grants, which represent a fraction of the $385 million that the state spends annually on pre-kindergarten. The charter sector's lobbying efforts are not so straightforward, because the state's 1998 law authorizing the schools grants them the right to serve students in kindergarten to 12th grade only. Legislators would have to change to the law — last revised in 2010 amid heavy controversy — to allow pre-kindergarten in charter schools. "It's our job to talk to lawmakers and say to them, 'Hey, does it really makes sense to a have a program where some really good schools don't have the ability to do full-day pre-K?'" said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter Center.
October 4, 2012
Public advocate tells city's elite he'd raise taxes to pay for pre-K
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio spoke at a 2010 rally outside Department of Education headquarters. Comptroller John Liu wasn't the only possible mayoral contender to put forth a major education policy proposal today. In a speech to some of New York's wealthiest individuals, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called for new taxes on top earners to fund an expansion of pre-kindergarten programs. New Yorkers who earn more than $500,000 a year would see their tax rate rise from 3.86 percent to 4.3 percent under the plan, which de Blasio outlined in a breakfast meeting held by the Association for a Better New York, a consortium of business and civic leaders. New Yorkers earning $1 million would see their tax bill rise by nearly $40,000 under the proposal. The rate hike would generate $532 million a year, de Blasio said, allowing the city to create or expand 50,000 pre-kindergarten slots and extend the school day for 120,000 middle school students. "This is not just a discussion of fairness or how we address inequality," de Blasio said, according to his prepared remarks. "This is a very economic discussion, because we’ve seen time and time again that this is where our education dollars have the biggest impact." Advocates for early childhood education were quick to support de Blasio's proposal. "We applaud Public Advocate de Blasio for today putting forward a bold, expansive, fully funded plan to ensure quality pre-K and after-school for many of New York's children," said Stephanie Gendell of the Campaign for Children, a group that emerged to fight child care cuts this spring. But Mayor Bloomberg, the city's second-wealthiest resident, said he thought placing an additional burden on the city's wealthiest taxpayers would backfire.
September 24, 2012
City to expand pre-K offerings with new seats and a new school
City officials and philanthropists announced two new early childhood initiatives today. From left: Administration for Children's Services Commissioner Ronald Richter, Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, and Susie Buffett, of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund. Instead of waiting until children are turning five years old to start educating them, the Department of Education is going to start targeting some children at five weeks. Citing research that shows a correlation between long-term achievement and enrollment in high-quality early childhood programs, Mayor Bloomberg announced this morning that the city will open a school next year that enrolls children from infancy through pre-kindergarten — and their parents. Bloomberg also announced a $20 million initiative to turn 4,000 oft-unused half-day pre-kindergarten seats into full-day slots that many parents find more attractive. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott made the announcements today in conjunction with "Education Nation," NBC's annual extravaganza of education policy programming hosted in Midtown Manhattan. This year's summit is focusing on innovations that have been proven to work. One of those is early childhood education, which primes children for academic success in elementary school and beyond. Children's minds are already 85 percent developed by the time they are old enough for kindergarten, a 2005 study found, and early education advocates say interventions in infancy can have a far greater impact on the achievement gap than at any other period in children's lives. In the proposed new school, which would open next September inside Brownsville's P.S. 41, low-income parents would be pushed to develop stronger social and emotional skills with their children while the children are infants and toddlers. Ultimately serving between 115 and 125 families a year, the school will be part of the Educare Schools network, which already operates 17 early childhood schools in 13 states.
November 14, 2011
In pre-K, Common Core fingerprints found on snack and a story
Chancellor Dennis Walcott prepares to read to a group of 4-year-olds at the Bank Street Head Start center. Using skills developed at his first job, Chancellor Dennis Walcott dropped to the floor at Manhattan's Bank Street Head Start center today and read a version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to a circle of 4-year-olds. Just as he said he had as a pre-kindergarten teacher in the 1970s, Walcott changed his voice for the different characters and acted out parts of the story, keeping the children laughing and acting along. (Watch video of the reading.) The read-aloud came during a break in painting, mashing play dough, building with blocks, and assembling magnetic tiles — activities that look like fun and games but actually reflect the city's academic goals for pre-K students. Those goals are set out in the city's new curriculum standards, called the Common Core, which start in pre-K. Like all city students, children in the Department of Education's pre-K classes are expected to complete Common Core-aligned "tasks" this year like the ones the DOE has suggested for units about trucks, plants, and the five senses. Among the Common Core standards for pre-K: Students should engage in group reading activities such as the one Walcott led and practice addition and subtraction using everyday objects.
October 13, 2011
In audit, Liu and DOE spar over pre-K funds the city doesn't use
The city isn't sending as many 4-year-olds to pre-kindergarten as it could, according to an audit by Comptroller John Liu. Liu's latest Department of Education audit looks at the way the city uses state funding for "universal pre-kindergarten" programs. The funds can be used to pay for half-day pre-K classes at public schools or through city or community-based preschool programs. Even though many public schools maintain waiting lists for pre-kindergarten classes, especially where space is tight, many 4-year-olds are not enrolled in pre-K classes that could help prepare them for school. Every year, the audit calculates, the city returns an average of about $30 million in unused pre-K funding to the state. "DOE's failure to fully allocate all UPK funds means that children who could have received pre-kindergarten classes are not being served," concludes the audit, which radiates evidence of tension between Liu's office and the DOE. The department submitted its response to the audit "under protest" and calling the audit's focus "deliberately and stubbornly myopic, thereby rendering it of little, if any, worth." If Liu's office had looked at efforts to expand pre-K enrollment, the DOE argues, it would have found that the problem lies not with the department but in constricting state regulations. An enormous challenge, the DOE and Liu's office agree, is that the state will only pay for two and a half hours of pre-K per day for each child.
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