The City on the Hill: Mayor de Blasio’s Universal Pre-K Proposal
Universal pre-kindergarten is one of city’s most controversial issues at the moment and it is all part of a movement that is sweeping across the nation, along with other intervention programs that target giving kids a head start.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has been advocating plans to create preschools for lower-income families for quite some time now, in the hopes of providing a nurturing environment for the budding generation, but he has met opponents, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been on the fence about this issue due to funding concerns.
After all, such programs are expensive to run, and between finding qualified teachers and constructing new school buildings, some New Yorkers wonder if it is more hassle than it is worth.
So the question remains: is this what our city needs to fill the socioeconomic gap in our “tale of two cities”?
Deanna Goudelias ’15 says, “I think universal pre-K is great because children learn best at a younger age, and it will help our city remain competitive in the global economy.”
Likewise, Richard Lubell, a AP Psychology teacher, states, “Overall, it’s going to be a good thing. It’s good to get children socialized. Studies show that when supplementary educational programs are eliminated, kids fall back on their gains from preschool.”
Though preschool may not seem like a very important component in mental development to some, many researchers claim that the “critical period” takes place in children at the age of four or perhaps even earlier, meaning that it is the best time to mold their growing minds.
Thus, it is not a surprise that so much emphasis is being placed on the proposal of this new system.
Joshua Silverman, a Sociology teacher, says, “Any system would be an improvement from the system we have now. It’s worth noting that other industrialized countries have similar intervention programs […] Also, it’ll offer parents a lot more flexibility in terms of their jobs.”
Silverman also mentions the importance of socializing children at an early age, subsequently improving their cognitive abilities as well.
While no one denies that giving children more opportunities to receive a better education is vital, we also have to consider if we have bitten off more than we can chew this time, blinded slightly by well-intentioned naivety that could result in a risky gamble.
Emily Rodriguez ’17 argues, “It’ll just add more anxiety to their [the children’s] lives. They should be at the playground.”
In addition, other opponents of the system speculate that these preschools will simply serve as day-care centers, where actual learning struggles to find a place within the classroom. Nonetheless, it will still allow children to socialize with one another, which will definitely give them an advantage.
It is apparent that if universal pre-K is successfully created according to plan, it will be either a huge hit or a miss.
Regardless of the outcome, New York City will flourish from the results of these trials, and by learning from these experiences, we can take some pride in the fact that we are making movements toward progressive reform rather than fearing proposals that strive only to benefit a united city.
We certainly hope that this system does prove beneficial, paving the way for a stronger education system that can become an example for the rest of the nation.