Mayor de Blasio, UPK-New York City, it is so good to have you here.
I and my colleagues in the New York State Assembly are here, including Cathy Nolan, the Chair of our Education Committee.
You've heard her eloquence on this subject and on every other issue pertaining to the City and to education. Thank you, Cathy.
You've met some of the other Members. Luis Sepulveda is here. Jeff Aubry. Marcus Crespo. And you've heard from Karim Camara. These are the people who get up every day and talk about pre-K.
We have fought so hard and so relentlessly to bring universal pre-K to the children of our state for the past 17 years.
We who have stood up for pre-K during that time, we have been waiting for you!
We have been waiting for parents to get fed up with a situation where a privileged few receive a jumpstart toward success and everybody else settles for second place or worse.
We have been waiting for New Yorkers to believe that the benefits of early learning are the birthright of each and every child in our state; more than just our moral and economic imperative, but the very essence of what it means to be a New Yorker.
This is 2014. By now, we should be wise enough to know that we cannot afford to waste the potential contained in even one of our precious, young minds.
That's why we are so happy and excited to have you here. That's why we are so excited to have Bill de Blasio leading our great city.
Because the debate about the wealth gap is not new.
The boldness, the energy and the compassion that this mayor has brought to the table is what makes it up front, the story of the day.
We must tap into that energy now to ensure that each and every child - today, tomorrow, and a hundred generations from now - has access to a high quality, full-day pre-K programs.
New Yorkers must commit themselves to pre-K funding that is significant, recurring and sustainable year after year.
That's how we will give each and every child a solid start on the road to academic achievement.
That's how we begin to close the wealth gap that frustrates our people and hampers our economy.
This is how we will make New York a stronger and a fairer place.
Let me just close by saying one more thing.
As far as I'm concerned - and I'm speaking as a father and a grandfather - I don't care about the political "inside baseball" that is being played here. I don't care who takes the credit when we win this fight for full-day pre-k.
What I want, what my Assembly colleagues want, what every parent wants is for every one of New York State's children to always have the opportunity to succeed.
They are our greatest hope, our most precious asset. When they win, we all win.
It begins with universal, full-day pre-K. It begins with us.
We need you!