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New York City Hosts 12 U.S. Cities for First Ever Pre-K for All Cities Learning Lab

October 6, 2016

Forum will highlight lessons learned from NYC’s Pre-K for All expansion and create nationwide network of pre-K leaders to foster long-term collaboration

NEW YORK—New York City is hosting policymakers today from 12 municipal governments from across the country for the first-ever Pre-K for All Cities’ Learning Lab. This meeting will establish a national network of cities dedicated to providing high-quality pre-kindergarten education to students.

This forum will allow for diverse municipalities to take part in an ongoing national dialogue about increasing access to high-quality early education for all children regardless of their race, socio-economic status or zip code. Studies have shown that high-quality pre-kindergarten leads to better long-term academic and behavioral outcomes for children. Moreover, evaluations of existing universal pre-K programs reveal a significant financial benefit to low and middle class families who struggle with childcare costs.

“Free, full-day, high quality pre-K is a game-changer for more than 70,400 four-year-olds in New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Delivering high quality pre-K is an essential part of our commitment to equity and excellence for all students and we’re thrilled to welcome this diverse group of cities who share our belief that our youngest learners must have a strong foundation to succeed in college and their careers. Municipal governments must work together to share best practices and lessons learned, and this summit is an essential step in building a strong network of policymakers who, together, will continue to advocate for expanded access to quality early education for every child nationwide.”

“Pre-K for All is all about ensuring high quality programs for every child, and we know that when we share best practices, children are the real winners,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “This forum is an invaluable opportunity for visiting cities to learn from our achievements, and perhaps more importantly from the challenges we faced, while also fostering a thoughtful, long-term discussion about how to expand access to high quality pre-K education across the country.”

“It’s an honor to welcome such a diverse group of cities aligned in the belief that every child deserves free, high-quality early education,” said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “What we did in New York City is testament to the role municipal governments can play in promoting equity and keeping the American Dream within reach for the next generation. The Pre-K for All Cities network is a critical next step in expanding access so that children across the country can reap the long-term benefits of a pre-kindergarten education.”

“High-quality pre-K education is critical to a child’s development and future academic success,” said Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack. “By hosting this forum, we are building a national dialogue dedicated to expanding and improving early education both within our respective cities and nationwide, so that every child has a chance to succeed, regardless of where they live or how much money their parents earn.”

Prior to the start of Pre-K for All, 19,287 four-year-olds were enrolled in full-day pre-K in New York City; in the 2015-16 school year, enrollment was 68,647. As of the first day of the 2016-17 school year, over 70,400 children were registered for free, full-day, high quality pre-K. This extra year of learning is a critical part of this administration’s commitment to equity and excellence for all students, and a way to address disparities in educational opportunity for our city’s youngest learners.

During the October 6 Learning Lab, policymakers from participating cities will take part in roundtable discussions examining achievements, challenges, and lessons learned from NYC’s Pre-K for All expansion, and sharing ideas and insights gained from their own city’s pre-K experiences. The Learning Lab is an opportunity for pre-K leaders to build relationships and identify thought partners for ongoing collaboration on how to implement high-quality pre-K. By building a national network of cities, municipalities will be able to learn from each other about how to create high-quality pre-K programs that best meet the needs of their respective children and families. Finally, the host City and visiting policymakers will be encouraged to join together to support expanding access and funding nationally to support early childhood education.

The 12 cities participating in this year’s Pre-K for All Learning Lab are:

  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Dayton, OH
  • Mesa, AZ
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Nashville, TN
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • San Antonio, TX
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle, WA
  • Tulsa, OK

"As we work to implement the Seattle Preschool Program which aims to provide affordable and quality preschool to every family with preschool-age children, I am pleased that Seattle is participating in this gathering of national education leaders on best practices in early learning," said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.  "Early learning is the cornerstone to building a 21st century education system that will prepare our nation's students to fully participate in tomorrow's economy."

“This forum is an incredible opportunity to meet other early education experts from across the country, exchange ideas on best practices for our youngest learners, and to learn from one another’s achievements and challenges,” said Anne Gemmell, Director of Pre-K for Philadelphia. “Each city participating in this forum is at a different stage in building their pre-K program, and by working together we can help each other improve our programs as well as encourage a substantive, nationwide dialogue on how to expand access to quality pre-k education to every child. We thank New York City for hosting this important learning lab and look forward to continuing this critical work.”

“We are thrilled join this group of national pre-K leaders,” said Erica Johnson, Senior Policy Advisor for Early Learning in Seattle, Washington. “It's an invaluable experience to learn from their experiences, to share our insights from our efforts in Seattle. New York City is providing a unique opportunity for collaboration among early childhood leaders.”

“We are excited to be a part of this first-of-its-kind forum,” said Sarah Baray, CEO of Pre-K 4 SA in San Antonio, Texas. “Research shows that investment in high-quality early childhood education pays significant dividends not only in terms of individual achievement, but also in economic and social impact on family and communities. We believe it is imperative that each and every child has access to a high-quality early education. Participating in this Learning Lab not only creates the opportunity to take away best practices to strengthen our own pre¬K program, but also serves to coalesce a strong national discussion that municipalities across the country can contribute to and benefit from."

The Learning Lab is funded by private support from the Catherine & Joseph Aresty Foundation, through the Fund for Public Schools.

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