30 Issues in 30 Days: How to Fund Universal Pre-K

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It's Education Week on the Brian Lehrer Show election series "30 Issues in 30 Days." On Thursday, the topic was pre-kindergarten. Rival candidates for mayor both support early childhood education but disagree how to pay for it.

Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio has called for an increase in taxes, from 3.9 percent to 4.3 percent, for New Yorkers earning $500,000 or more to pay for expanded universal pre-K programs. Republican candidate Joe Lhota opposes the tax hike. He says he would advocate for higher quality pre-K that is not what he has called "glorified day care" but he has not outlined how he would pay for it.  

The callers quickly filled the lines for the show. Hear what they said by clicking play. People also commented online. Ariel wrote that she has a problem with a "core curriculum" for preschoolers.

"The value of play is so underestimated in our current society, and as we start teaching children earlier and earlier while piling more and more work on at the same time, they have less time for play, which develops social skills and abilities vital to being a healthy member of society," she said.

While there is a huge demand for full-day pre-kindergarten seats, there are plenty of half-day seats unfilled. Why? Geoff Decker, a reporter at Gotham Schools, said the half-day schedule doesn't work for most working parents. 

Machi from Jackson Heights, Queens, is one of them.

"I work full time 8-9 hours a day. I have to put my kid to full day program and that cost a lot more money. or I have to hire some body to pick her up and watch her for the rest of the day. Hiring nanny and baby sitter is ridiculously expensive," Machi wrote online. "Universal pre-K should be full day and affordable. I know a lot of couples who has only one kid or none because it is too expensive to have kids in the city."

See the full 30 Issues schedule and archive here. And share your ideas about how to fund and improve pre-kindergarten below.