FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2007
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES THE AVAILABILITY OF FREE UNIVERSAL PRE-K SEATS IN WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, December 16, 2007
"Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
"Last week, I traveled to China and Bali to speak to leaders of other major cities on two subjects vital to New York's future: climate change and economic competitiveness. But one of the most interesting discussions I had was with the Mayor of Shanghai, Mayor Han, on a third subject: the importance of public schools.
"Making public education work for our children is the best way to ensure the future of our city - and our country. Because the countries that create the best public school systems will gain a huge advantage in the global economy. That's why we've spent the past six years working to transform New York's schools into centers of learning where excellence is expected. By setting the bar high, and holding everyone - students, teachers, principals, and administrators - accountable for success, we've made some real progress. Today, test scores are up significantly, graduation rates are at a more than 20-year high, and the achievement gap among students of different ethnicities is narrowing.
"Our schools are moving in the right direction, and we can't afford to ease up - particularly when countries like China and India are gaining ground in the world economy. Increased competition is a good thing; ultimately it will create more jobs and opportunity for everybody, if we ensure that our students get the education they need to compete in a global economy. For every additional child that we can get to graduate high school and go on to college, that is one more child who will be more likely to climb the ladder of success.
"Studies by the nation's leading researchers have proven that putting our children on the path to success early on makes all the difference. Young children who participate in quality early childhood and pre-kindergarten programs develop a strong foundation for school readiness, academic accomplishment, and adult achievement.
"To help more New York City students arrive at school ready to learn, we've worked hard to improve access to pre-kindergarten programs, and to ensure their quality. Since 2002, we've increased the number of available free pre-kindergarten seats by more than 9,000. The Department of Education has also invested significant resources in moving more students from half-day to full-day programs - which has made it a lot easier for working parents to enroll their children.
"Beginning this school year, the Department of Education and the Administration for Children's Services launched a new, coordinated effort to help more children in lower-income neighborhoods take advantage of free pre-kindergarten slots. Many of these children are already participating in Head Start or other community-based programs, but they could still benefit from the enhanced instruction that universal pre-kindergarten provides.
"The positive effects of early childhood education are clear. And so is the need to prepare our children for success. So I want to take this opportunity to remind parents that the deadline for registering students for pre-kindergarten is coming up fast. We still have many half-day and full-day seats at schools and community-based organizations throughout the city. Children who turn four years of age by the end of the year are eligible for these seats.
"Parents who want to take advantage of free, universal pre-kindergarten must register by this Friday, December 21st. To find out more about these programs, you can go to nyc.gov and link to the Department of Education's website, where applications are available in 8 languages; or you can simply call 3-1-1.
"This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958
Listen to the radio address