Magnarelli: Make Pre-K the Law

Constitutional amendment would ensure all children have access to early education

Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli (D-Syracuse) today introduced an amendment to the state constitution that would make pre-kindergarten and kindergarten a permanent part of New York’s education system, guaranteeing all students a head start on academic achievement and future success.

“The governor’s budget proposes education cuts of historic proportions that would lock 60,000 kids out of pre-kindergarten. Locally, his budget cuts $3.22 million in pre-K funding for the Syracuse City School District — affecting 630 children,” Magnarelli said. “We must not allow our children’s futures to become victim to the governor’s wrong-headed budget choices. This amendment ensures that every child in New York can reap the tremendous benefits of a quality pre-K program – benefits that reach far beyond the classroom.”

Research shows that children who attend pre-K programs have higher reading and math scores and are more likely to enjoy long-term academic success. And, according to a recent study by Chicago’s Child-Parent Centers, kids who attend pre-K are 70 percent less likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18.

“Pre-K is making a real difference for our children, and now is not the time to strip it away from them,” Magnarelli said. “Now is the time to strengthen the foundations upon which success is built.”

The amendment is similar to an initiative adopted overwhelmingly last year by Florida voters, after being endorsed by Governor Jeb Bush. According to the Education Commission of the States, 43 states offer pre-kindergarten programs. Florida could save billions by investing in quality pre-kindergarten — taking into account money saved on special education, welfare and prisons, according to a study by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University.

“Providing quality pre-K will save far more than it costs. Besides, it’s high time that the children of New York were guaranteed access to the advantages of an early education,” Magnarelli said. “I stand firm in my commitment to our children, to their education, and to the future.”