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Report Finds Too Many Children Left Behind

Almost 90,000 4 year olds in upstate New York don't get full-day pre-K. (Lochoaymca/Wikimedia Commons)
Almost 90,000 4 year olds in upstate New York don't get full-day pre-K. (Lochoaymca/Wikimedia Commons)
February 29, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. - In 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged to make pre-K for 4 year olds universal in New York, but a new report says many upstate children still are going without.

The report, called Too Many Children Left Behind, says in the first year the state added $340 million of funding for pre-K, but $300 million of that went to New York City, while the rest of the state got only $40 million.

Marina Marcou-O'Malley, policy director of the Alliance for Quality Education, says last year only 1,200 new spots were added outside the city.

"There are still almost 90,000 4 year olds waiting for pre-K outside New York City," says Marcou-O'Malley. "They have no seats."

Sixty-three percent of 4 year olds in low-income upstate districts can't get full-day pre-K. The governor's executive budget for the coming year only would increase pre-K spending by $22 million, and only for 3 year olds.

Marcou-O'Malley calls that totally inadequate.

"The Board of Regents came out with a proposal of over $150 million," she says. "Advocates across the board are calling for $125 million - $150 million, primarily outside of New York City, to get fully universal."

Marcou-O'Malley says there are numerous studies showing that early childhood education improves school performance, graduation rates, even the health of children and reduces costs for remediation and special ed.

"It is a program that there is indisputable evidence that it works," she says. "And actually, there's very little disagreement on that across the board."

The advocates also are calling for an additional $190 million for child care services, saying 78 percent of eligible children are currently being denied subsidized child care.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY