April 2003


From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Steven Sanders, Chair, Education Committee

What the experts are saying...

"Let’s declare, once and for all, what we all know to be the case: Pre-K works."

- Gov. George Pataki, 1998

"We’ll be spending more dollars on special education needs. We’ll be spending more dollars when kids drop out. [It’s] going to prevent some kids from being able to meet the [state] standards."

- Marion Canedo, Buffalo Schools Superintendent

"...[N]ational studies have shown every dollar invested in pre-school programs returns $7 in savings for remediation, welfare payments, unemployment and other compensatory costs."

- Christine Vogelsang, Director of Early Childhood Education, Syracuse City School District

"The things that are most valuable in life can be learned in the pre-school years: math and reading skills, social skills and problem-solving skills."

- Jennifer Lynn Heins, Syracuse mother

"For many of our families, this is the only opportunity they have to send their kids to preschool."

- Connie Dann Duval, Director of the Early Childhood Department at Hebrew Educational Society

"Isn’t it cheaper to send young children to pre-K and Head Start now than to pay for Johnny to be on welfare or be incarcerated?"

- Kathryn Laboda Bolster, Fulton mother

"People still think of pre-kindergarten centers as cute little optional places. But it’s not nonessential to get kids speaking English before they enter kindergarten."

- Janice McGuire, Executive Director of the Hudson Guild combined day care and pre-K program in Chelsea

"These kids end up so far ahead of other kids, and the loss would be devastating to these families."

- Howard Martin, who runs a pre-K program at Bronx House

Bush administration hails value of pre-K

Presidential advisor Grover Whitehurst recently visited Albany to reinforce the value of pre-K — where this vital education program is under attack by Governor Pataki. As director of the federal Institute of Education Sciences, Whitehurst’s job is to ensure that the federal government is getting the best results from the roughly $50 billion in education aid that it sends to the states and to encourage using research to guide decision making. So it’s no surprise he’s a strong proponent of pre-K. After meeting with the Board of Regents, he said:

"The evidence is that for low-income kids, a high-quality preschool program is effective and pays back its costs years down the road."

Whitehurst is not the only Bush advisor to offer solid advice on pre-K. Susan B. Neuman, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, recently blasted the governor’s funding cuts to the state’s universal pre-kindergarten program, saying:

"Children who attend high-quality pre-K come to school ready to learn. It does not make sense to eliminate pre-K when it is one of the few education initiatives that really work."

Even President George Bush’s brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, has voiced his support for pre-K. He said:

"There is simply no question that children who fall behind in an early grade tend to fall even further behind over time. Many children currently arrive in kindergarten with underdeveloped learning skills, and I believe [pre-K] addresses this concern responsibly."

The fact is, study after study finds investing in pre-K helps provide our children with the tools needed to succeed.

The Governor’s cuts in
pre-K funding will leave many children behind

Governor Pataki’s proposal to cut more than $200 million statewide from pre-kindergarten programs amounts to much more than a bad choice. In truth, the governor’s cuts would demolish pre-K. To save a relatively small amount of money, the governor is eliminating a program that will pay dividends for years to come.

Pre-K — a worthy investment in our future

Pre-K is a proven early intervention program that improves academic performance, cuts crime and saves money. In fact, according to Chicago’s Child-Parent Centers, children who attend pre-K are 70 percent less likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18. Research also shows that children who attend pre-K programs have higher reading and math scores and are more likely to enjoy long-term academic success.

Children who attend pre-K save educators and taxpayers time and money by reducing the need for costly special education programs and helping prevent students from repeating certain grades. Furthermore, children who attend pre-K are more prepared socially, emotionally, as well as academically for their school experience.

Children depend on us to make the right choices

Introducing children to the values instilled by an early, quality education is a far reaching investment in our future. Currently, the Assembly’s LADDER program is reducing class sizes, funding universal pre-kindergarten, providing after school programs, supporting teacher training, improving the use of technology in the classroom and ensuring proper maintenance of school buildings — but there’s still more to be done.

The Assembly Majority will work to convince Governor Pataki to make the right choice and follow the advice of experts like Grover Whitehurst and Susan Neuman. Our children deserve nothing short of the best, and the Assembly will continue the fight to ensure pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten are fundamental parts of New York’s education system.

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