30 Issues: Funding Pre-K

Thursday, September 26, 2013

It's Education Week on the Brian Lehrer Show's election series "30 Issues in 30 Days." See the full 30 Issues schedule and archive here.

NYC Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio says he will tax the wealthy to pay for expanded pre-K; Joe Lhota opposes the idea. Geoffrey Decker, staff reporter at, examines both proposals and the research around the impact of pre-K on education and poverty.


Geoffrey Decker

Comments [21]

Ben from New York

Just as a heads up: I don't want to "add my voice to the conversation." I want quality radio programming.

Sep. 26 2013 06:35 PM
a mom from BK

What about the question that is being avoided here: is this good for our kids, developing institutionalizing skills at age 4 and having high test scores in 3rd grade?

And is this the way we all want to live, parents of young children always out of the house for long days at work with their young children stuck in institutional training programs?

And will having young children developing their institutional skills earlier and possibly achieving higher 3rd grade test scores while their parents are working long hours away from home really make any difference in quality of life for the next generation, particularly when that generation has spent more of it's youth institutionalized, away from family interaction?

Sep. 26 2013 02:46 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Lauren from Brooklyn said:

> Brian Lehrer read from a New York Times article, quoting the number of words that children from different households are exposed to. I would love to read the article in full, but haven't been able to find it.

Lauren, I used Google with search terms "number of words child exposed to". There are several to choose from. The first one is...

"Before a Test, a Poverty of Words"

If I could do this, why couldn't you?

Sep. 26 2013 01:29 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

"What Is in the Overall Budget?

For the school year 2013–14, the Department of Education’s total budget is $24.8 billion, including $4.9 billion to pay pensions and interest on Capital Plan debt. "

$24.8 BILLION.

How much money needs to be thrown at the BOE until they can guarantee that every child will master the course material?

Clearly throwing more money at the problem is not a solution. It was worth a try, but it DOESN'T WORK.

The problem lies in the childs home and community. A community that doesn't value education is a failed community which produces failed individuals.

Sep. 26 2013 01:24 PM
Lauren from Brooklyn

Brian Lehrer read from a New York Times article, quoting the number of words that children from different households are exposed to. I would love to read the article in full, but haven't been able to find it.

Sep. 26 2013 12:53 PM

Let's consider the root of the problem: all middle income and lower income families now have 2 parents working outside the home. When I grew up, my Mom was at home with us, teaching us those essential developmental, social and emotional skills. We played outside with neighborhood kids and we joined LIttle League, Girl Scouts, etc.
We didn't have money to spend on buying books -- we benefitted from the Public Library system and went there weekly to renew our books, with the older children escorting the younger ones. While we will never be able to return to the simplicity of the 1950's ( and in many aspects, it's not recommended !) we can see that one parent in the home during the day makes a huge difference in children's learning.
How could this be improved? What if ONE parent could earn a wage sufficient to support a family ? As most inequalities in our society in this time, a living wage is at the root of the issue.

Sep. 26 2013 10:55 AM

I think the problem with what de Blasio proposed was the idea of 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. As we further structure the lives of our children, they lose their ability to think critically and creatively, and continue to limit their social skills. And as their work piles up and we shuttle our children from one event we chose for them to the next, they end up with no time to themselves. And then we wonder why psychological issues have been on the rise amongst our younger populations. There was a very interesting article on the value of play recently by Peter Gray called The Play Deficit. Definitely a worthwhile read.

Sep. 26 2013 10:41 AM
BK from NJ

That said, pre-K is for learning, not daycare. I do not believe in using my tax funds to cover the additional 5 hours that someone else wants te government to watch their kid. I consider myself pretty progressive, bit you have to draw their somewhere. Kids should have access to quality half day pre-K learning, but it's ridiculous to say the government should watch kids until mom or dad gets home at 6pm on the taxpayer dime.

Sep. 26 2013 10:31 AM
John from office

Becky, hearing Lil Wayne rap is not added into the study. It is true, these kids are raised by idiots, who then grow up to be idiots.

Sep. 26 2013 10:30 AM
Nancy from Manhattan

Universal "full-day" pre-K in NYC should include optional after-school programs so kids could stay until 5:30 or 6, so low-income (and other!) parents working full-time could take advantage of the pre-K program.

Kids could nap and have a nutritious snack and play, and maybe do projects like community gardening, in those after-school hours.

Sep. 26 2013 10:30 AM

Does Brian know his mic is on while guests are talking and we can hear him talking with with assistants?

Sep. 26 2013 10:28 AM
Joyce from NYC

Brian, could you have the guest back in 5 years after all of this has been done, and present the OBJECTIVE STUDIES that it has world.

Or do we just keep claiming that Head Start works, when studies show otherwise.

Oh, I see, it is just books, give them books and all will be solved.

Sep. 26 2013 10:27 AM
jf from ny

There should be a test that the government tests all the school children for. The learning style test. If the test shows that the student would learn much better from one of the alternative learning styles or styles of private schools, the city should pay for the student to go there, or hire a teacher and have a class that teaches that way. There might be clear immediate winners in this technique.

Sep. 26 2013 10:25 AM
machi from Jackoson Heights, Queens

Universal preK is HALF DAY. 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. Universal preK 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. I feel like the government encourage not have kids in NYC.

Sep. 26 2013 10:22 AM
john from office

All of this talk talk talk, it comes down to parents raising their kids. The school is secondary. If your family life is garbage, you are just doomed. Maybe if we taught the kids Hip Hop lyrics, would that help!! NOT!!!

Sep. 26 2013 10:21 AM
The Truth from Becky

OK enough! That study is just plain IGNORANT, the greater number of words from higher income families and least number words from lower income families??! Now I have heard ALL the bull in the world!

Sep. 26 2013 10:21 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I prefer the Spartan system, the way the Spartans raised their children.Kids should be taken from their mothers and raised fighting foxes to survive :)

Sep. 26 2013 10:15 AM
margot from NJ

Cathy from Hoboken, NJ -- AMEN! You have voiced what I have felt for the last couple of months. Enough already...

Sep. 26 2013 10:15 AM
BK from NJ

My daughter just started kindergarten at a local Catholic school, but it is her third year there after two years of pre-K. She is starting kindergarten with the ability to write, add, read many words ("sightwords" from memorization as well as how to sound out words), as well as the socialization and discipline of listening, sitting, learning, etc. I couldn't imagine another kid without pre-K trying to catch up to what my daughter has already done.

Sep. 26 2013 10:11 AM
RJ from prospect hts

There used to be many neighborhood pre/afterschool programs. A number of years ago, Mayor Bloomberg put out an RFP at Christmastime, many pages long and due Jan 15, that these small providers could not possibly meet. In many instances, they RFPs funded partial programs, leaving small providers with only partial funding and a loss of overhead for programs that were no longer funded. Which put working-class parents in a bind, because they had been able to put children of different ages into one place rather than running around finding multiple programs. If was quietly devastating to families. Many advocacy groups were intimidated into not speaking loudly because of the mayor's public--private--funding discretion.

Sep. 26 2013 10:10 AM
Cathy from Hoboken, NJ

Sick and tired of hearing about education issues, in particular the NYC school system. I've listened to these segments for along time and it is definitely an important issue but recently I realized I can't stand it anymore! Enough! I, like many others, do not have children in school and this issue is only of limited interest to us. Brian Lehrer must devote half his shows to this issue. I'm done with it!

Sep. 26 2013 10:08 AM

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