2006-09-08 / Community

Addabbo Calls For Universal Pre-K

City Council Member Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. has announced that he has cosponsored a Resolution in the Council calling on the State Legislature to fully fund Universal Pre-Kindergarten as provided for in the 1997 Learning, Achieving, Developing by Directing Educational Resources (LADDER) program.

Addabbo noted that learning in the early years serves as the foundation for all later learning, adding that "too many children are under-prepared when they enter school."

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, one-third of children entering kindergarten do not know the alphabet and remain behind their peers in reading at the end of the first grade.

Pre-kindergarten enhances school readiness, and children who attend pre-kindergarten programs perform at higher levels than those who do not, exhibiting higher achievement test scores and graduation and post secondary enrollment rates, as well as lower special education and grade retention rates, according to the Trust for Early Education.

In the United States, public investment in education and development is more than seven times greater during the school-aged years than during the early childhood years, according to the Child & Family Policy Center.

According to research conducted by the Rand Corporation, investment in early childhood programs is highly cost-effective, having been found to "generate a return to society ranging from $1.80 to $17.07 for each dollar spent on the program."

Forty-four states and the District of Columbia provide funding for pre-kindergarten programs serving four-year-olds, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

U.S. Census Bureau data indicates that there are approximately 250,000 four-year-old children living in the State of New York and the State Education Commissioner reports that less than half, about 120,000, of New York's four-year-olds are currently served by pre-kindergarten programs supported by either State or federal funding.

Under the terms of LADDER, the Universal Pre-Kindergarten program was to be phased in over four years at the statewide rate of $67 million in 1998-99, $100 million in 1999-00, $225 million in 2000-01, and $500 million in 2001-02 and each year thereafter.

"However", said Addabbo, "the Universal Pre-Kindergarten program was never fully funded, with only $254.7 million, about half of what was promised, allocated for the 2006-07 school year."

"When fully implemented, the Universal Pre-Kindergarten program was intended to provide the opportunity for a pre-kindergarten experience to all four-year-olds in the State," said Addabbo.

Calling on the New York State Legislature to fully fund Universal Pre-Kindergarten program Councilman Addabbo said that all of New York's children could benefit from pre-kindergarten and deserve the opportunity for a quality education.

For further information about this legislation please call Councilman Addabbo's office at 718-738-1111.

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