Pre-K Advocates Lobby in Albany

Feb 5, 2013

Cliff Bird, principal of Abram Lansing Elementary School in Cohoes, addresses fellow-advocates in Albany at the Legislative Office Building of the State Capitol.
Credit WAMC (Dave Lucas)

Advocates for early childhood education lobbied Monday at the Capitol in support of Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal to expand pre-K programs in New York's school districts.

A big push for pre-K funding in Albany as parents, educators and law enforcement officials voiced their support for Governor Andrew Cuomo's 25-million dollar proposed budget allocation for pre-K that would establish full-day programs in high need districts.

Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff says that early childhood education is a key tactic for crime prevention. Krokoff adds that kids who don’t catch on and do well early in school eventually turn to crime.

The advocates stress that full day pre-K reduces incarceration rates while increasing student outcomes in schools, which in turn results in more success in college and the job market. It also financially boosts households where both parents must work.

Last week in Renssalaer County Dr. Rick Timbs, Executive Director, Statewide School Finance Consortium, addressed a crowd gathered at Columbia High School, warning districts and parents to brace for future teacher layoffs. He finds the problem with the pre-K initiative, is that there is ONLY 25-million dollars available.

Cliff Bird, principal of Abram Lansing Elementary School in Cohoes, attended the Columbia High Rally and explains the most important thing for the moment, is that "the conversation is on the table." Bird recognizes that some schools can’t even afford kindergarten, let alone pre-K.

Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York, is calling on legislators to support additional state aid funding beyond what Governor Cuomo proposed to protect full day Kindergarten.Some advocates noted that certain school districts may have to roll Kindergarten back to half-day sessions to accommodate full day pre-K.

Kindergarten is not mandatory in New York State - a handful of districts already have cut Kindergarten back to half day sessions - reports that 13 districts in the Hudson Valley considered cutting back or eliminating Kindergarten as they drew up new spending plans in 2012.