March 25, 2014
Melanie Hartzog’s op-ed in today’s National Journal is an important read. As she explains herself, she knows a thing or two about what kids need, and she’s a big supporter of UPKNYC:
As New York City’s former Deputy Commissioner for Early Childhood Services, and now Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund-New York, I know that one of the most effective strategies to address poverty and inequality is to invest in early childhood development and education.
She describes the incredible progress that this campaign has made in the past few weeks to break the 17 year-long stalemate on funding these vital programs:
For the first time in years, policymakers in New York City and Albany are working in earnest to deliver what should be a basic right for every child: access to a high-quality pre-kindergarten (pre-K) program… New York’s legislature voted in 1997—17 years ago—to fund universal pre-K, but state lawmakers have never been able to identify a reliable funding source to deliver on the promise. Now that’s changed. Mayor Bill de Blasio has laid out a concrete and common-sense proposal to modestly raise taxes on the wealthiest residents in New York City to fund pre-K programs there.
Melanie also points out that all our elected leaders now support our goal to identify a dedicated funding stream for universal pre-k and after school programs:
Governor Andrew Cuomo agrees pre-K is a priority and proposed a modest investment toward achieving universality. And in the most recent sign that the years-old impasse is nearing a solution, the State Assembly and Senate are both proposing strategies to finance pre-K, with the Assembly in full support of Mayor de Blasio’s plan. This is a tremendously encouraging first step.
She zeroes right in on why this campaign is so critical to our city and to our state:
The uniting principle here is that when we know we can do more to give children a foundation for future success—and when the political will exists and the funding is within reach–it is urgent that we seize the moment. We know high-quality pre-K and full-day kindergarten are vital programs that help children thrive, and the momentum in New York is heartening. Now it’s time to follow through and make this longstanding promise a reality.
When the final budget passes, New York City will be a true model for the early education field and for the nation.