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NY Education Reformers To Be Told “Start Before School Even Starts”

July 10, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. - With New York's high school graduation rate ranking 38th in the nation, a blue-ribbon commission created by Governor Andrew Cuomo begins a series of ten regional hearings today to look at what can be done to boost pupil performance.

Kate Breslin, president and CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, will tell the Commission the so-called "achievement gap" between college-ready graduates and those who fall behind or drop out can be narrowed with an emphasis on children who aren't even in kindergarten yet.

"That gap appears long before children reach kindergarten. It can become evident at early as nine months of age. And so we know that at-risk children are 25 percent more likely to drop out of school."

She'll be calling for more state support for a quality rating system for early childhood programs, including pre-K, that's in its initial stages, called Quality Stars New York.

Breslin is confident the Commission will get her message.

"For too long, New York has had separate and siloed (kept apart: ed.) early childhood and K-through-12 systems and people have focused very much on the later years. And I really think we have a group of folks here who are going to get it. They're going to say, 'Oh, yeah: investing early makes sense.' "

Breslin says children who fall behind before even starting kindergarten - often those from impoverished communities - are 40 percent more likely to become teen parents and 50 percent more likely to be placed in special education.

"So we know that investing in kids early can save us money, in the short term by reducing the costs of remedial education, and in the long term by increasing graduation rates."

The Commission hearings will continue through October with a goal of delivering a report to the governor by the end of the calendar year.

Following criticism that the Commission's initial membership failed to include a parent-advocate, a school board member and a district superintendent, representatives from those constituencies were added belatedly by the Governor.


Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY