The rally comes before a joint hearing of the Education and Women’s Issues Committees on a Resolution supporting the Administration’s plan

City Hall, NY- City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was joined by several Council Members, advocates and parents of New York City schoolchildren today in a strong show of support for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to fund universal pre-Kindergarten and expanded after-school programs. The rally came before a joint hearing of the Council’s Education and Women’s Issues committees on a Council Resolution backing the City’s plan to establish universal pre-Kindergarten for all eligible four-year-olds and after-school programs for middle-school-aged youth.

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said: “We’ve been waiting on Albany for universal pre-Kindergarten for over 15 years – we won’t wait any longer. The City’s plan to fund pre-K and expand after-school programs for middle school students is the right investment in our children and our future as a city. The proven positive impact these programs have on children – both in and out of the classroom – cannot be overstated. In the long-term, they also have the potential to dramatically reduce poverty and income inequality. I believe that a plan with the true potential to achieve all of this is worth every penny.”

“I am pleased to have worked closely with Speaker Mark-Viverito to introduce a Council resolution in support of the Mayor’s plan for universal pre-kindergarten,” said Council Member and Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm. “Mayor de Blasio has outlined a reasonable approach on how to secure that funding and I stand firmly committed to his goals. Study after study has shown that children who receive an early childhood education perform demonstrably better later in life than those who don’t receive it. Also, as a former director of a preschool for six years and as a former NYC public school teacher for 25 years, I saw firsthand how educating children at an early age has a huge impact throughout their lives.”

“The time is now to act responsibly towards New York City’s future – our children. In November, the voters mandated the expansion of universal pre-kindergarten and middle school programs, and Mayor de Blasio dutifully responded to the call with quick action. The Council’s hearing on UPK will be another bold step on the road to fully educating our students,” said Council Member and Women’s Issues Committee Chair Laurie Cumbo.

“Early childhood education is not only crucial to overcoming the barriers of poverty, but it is also particularly important to closing the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras. “I applaud Mayor de Blasio, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, and advocates for continuing to push to ensure that New York City has a dedicated funding stream and enough money to implement universal, high-quality pre-K and after school programs for middle school students. It is my hope that through our advocacy efforts, our colleagues in Albany will see the immense benefits that will be generated by granting our great City the authority to raise its own taxes to pay for this critical expansion.”

“It is essential that adequate funding be provided to afford all eligible children the opportunity to attend full day prekindergarten programs. It is widely acknowledged that there are long-lasting benefits to children who have early exposure to formalized, structured learning environments. The academic and social foundations that are laid are of benefit to our society. The economic benefits which accrue to children with sustained skills is quite distinctive. The immediate economic benefits are also realized to their parents who are able to maintain employment without having to pay childcare costs associated with half-day pre-K programs,” said Council Member Inez Barron.

“Universal Pre-K lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning for our children. Studies show that pre-kindergarten nurtures an early and meaningful appreciation for education in all its forms, and jumpstarts a child’s journey toward a fulfilling career. New York City’s children deserve the chance to start off their education on the right foot, and that’s why universal pre-k is more than just important. It’s essential,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.
“Studies have shown that universal pre-K and after school programs have significant positive outcomes for children which will level the playing field so all of our children can succeed. I stand with my colleagues in the City Council and urge the State to increase taxes on the wealthiest New York City residents so we can afford these programs for all of our children,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen.

“There’s no good argument against the importance of expanding access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs in New York City. Parents, education professionals and the business community all understand the benefits of these services and I share each of these perspectives. With both my wife and I in the workforce, Pre-K has been an essential means of establishing a basis for academic excellence for my children, so they have begun elementary school ready to learn. As Chair of the Committee on Small Business, I share the business community’s interest in supporting the early skills and cognitive development that lead to workforce preparedness, allowing our city to compete globally. I’m extremely proud to be part of city government at this moment where the political will to make this critical investment in our children and our city matches the public interest,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy.

“I support Mayor Bill de Blasio in his initiative to provide universal pre-kindergarten schooling for the next generation of New York City scholars. Pre-K is an essential component to the intellectual development of our children,” said Council Member Chaim Deutsch. “The sooner we can begin a child’s student career, the more likely he or she will be able to embrace the thrill of learning, and comfortably adjust to a classroom environment. As the chairman of the Non-Public Education Subcommittee, I will be a staunch supporter and advocate of private and parochial schools, in addition to serving our city’s public schools to ensure that every child receives the resources they deserve. The future of our great city is dependent on the education we give our youth now.”
“I am strongly supportive of expanding Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) to all children. The earlier children come to school, the better off they will be. If we ever hope to overcome the difficulty children have with becoming college ready, we must expand UPK to every child. Mayor de Blasio is on the right track with insisting that this be done under City auspices,” said Council Member Alan Maisel.

“We must ensure that all children in this city have access to pre-school education. It is well-known that enrollment in early childhood development programs leads to academic achievement and careers that are successful and fulfilling. Investing in our children at a very young age establishes a positive foundation that endures for a lifetime,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene.

“Everyone can agree that early childhood education and afterschool programs are both so very important. And it has been proven that kids who receive an early education are 20% more likely to graduate high school. That is why we need a reliable, sustainable and steady funding mechanism and not one that varies year to year. Our children are far too important to have their futures subject to the inevitable give and take of the annual budget process,” said Council Member Vincent J. Gentile.

“Children from all communities are entitled to a quality education that encourages them to learn and inspires them to reach their full potential,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson. “Mayor de Blasio’s universal Pre-K plan is a critical down payment in New York’s future that will enable educators to open young minds to the full range of opportunities that are available in today’s world and assure that all of children are able to be competitive in the modern economy.”
“Expanding pre-kindergarten programs to every child is essential to providing our next generation of leaders with the foundation and skills needed to excel,” said Council Member David Greenfield. “As someone who has fought for years to improve education in New York, I am proud to be part of this historic effort and to stand with Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito and all of my colleagues who recognize the value of early education on behalf of families and children around the city.”

Council Member Ben Kallos said, “This plan to expand early education is just like New York City: smart, bold and action-ready. Single parents like my own need options for their children, so that in the often difficult race for success, every child gets a fair start. By investing in our children, we can reduce drop-out rates and crime, helping all New Yorkers thrive.”

“It’s simple, everything starts at the beginning. We save our children we save our future; if we neglect to save our children we neglect our future. It’s just that simple,” said Council Member Andy King.

“The passing of this symbolic legislation will take us one step closer to ensuring that New York City’s children have access to the best educational opportunities from a very early age. I applaud Speaker Mark-Viverito’s advocacy and dedication to making education in this great city equitable for all,” said Council Member Peter Koo.

“As a single mother of two, I can attest to the crisis millions of parents face in New York City with the lack of Universal Pre-Kindergarten services. We all know that Pre-K makes a difference in the quality of education our children receive. Yet it is only accessible to those lucky enough to get into the small number of seats available in their local school, or for those who can afford to pay for it privately. All our children should be granted the right to quality education. As Chair of the Committee on State and Federal Legislation, I will continue to push Albany to move the Mayor’s plan forward. The future of our children’s education is worth it,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz.

“Far too many children in New York City are disadvantaged before they even start their schooling so it is essential that we are relentless in our efforts to give every child equal opportunity to reach their full potential. I stand proudly with Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito in calling for universal pre-kindergarten and making an investment in our children’s future,” said Council Member Steve Levin.

Council Member Carlos Menchaca said: “As a child who graduated from a Head Start program, I know the value pre-kindergarten has on immigrant families. It was in my pre-k program that I first learned how to speak English. As Chair of the Immigration Committee, I am proud to stand with my colleagues in support of a resolution that emphasizes the importance of universal pre-kindergarten, as well as after school programs for middle school students across the City. These programs are imperative for New York’s hard working families and immigrant communities. Expanding access to pre-K and after school programming will have far-reaching impacts across the City, making our educational system more equitable for all New Yorkers.”

“In order for NYC to remain competitive in the 21st Century, it must continue to build its infrastructure, even in difficult economic times – what infrastructure is more vital, more important than our education system? Most importantly, in these hard economic times, we cannot continue to cut vital services from the most vulnerable and needy in our City – our children,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “Increasing educational spending for Universal Pre-K, as well as expanding after-school programming, is critical to our city’s future and the best long-term plan to address income inequality in our city. Funding for such programming has been and remains a high priority of mine since being elected. I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues in the City Council to implement this important initiative.”
“Universal Pre-K will enrich the lives of our children and is a step towards a better, more equitable educational system in our city. It will not only serve as the cornerstone to school readiness but will also improve the quality of life for many working parents who often struggle to find quality, affordable early education programs for their toddlers. Ultimately, Universal Pre-K is a step towards insuring that children of low and moderate income families will have the fundamental tools to succeed and that no child is left behind,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez.

“The wheels are turning on NYC’s Universal Pre-K plan and we’re going to hear all about why Mayor de Blasio’s plan with a dedicated funding stream, will best benefit the children of our city,” said Council Member Rodriguez. “The overwhelming benefits of Universal Pre-K are clear and widely recognized and it’s now time to put this plan in motion. We must be sure that starting September of this year, every one of our city’s 4 year-olds has a seat in a quality pre-k program that is adequately funded and ready to best prepare them for college and beyond.”

“Establishing universal pre-K has long been a priority of mine, and now we finally have the opportunity to make it a reality. Early education is crucial to the growth and development of our youngsters, and I think our richest New Yorkers can afford an extra cup of coffee per day to improve the lives of thousands of kids,” said Council Member James Vacca.