Streams

Can $10,239 Buy Quality Pre-K?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014 - 04:00 AM

Pre-k students in a class run by the Children's Aid Society plan out how they will spend their time during "free play." (Yasmeen Khan)

Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to rapidly expand pre-kindergarten in New York City comes with an emphasis on programs that are "high quality." But quality is not cheap.

After the mayor outlined the "new model" of what a high-quality program looks like, SchoolBook went to see one in action. Our visit to a Children's Aid Society pre-k program in East Harlem clarified why quality pre-k is expensive. 

Children's Aid estimated that their annual pre-k costs per child hover around $14,000. The organization, an ally in the mayor's push to expand pre-k, said the cost is comparable to de Blasio's spending proposal of $10,239 per child because the city's model would provide pre-k for about six hours per day, for 180 days per year, whereas they offer longer school days, and year-round programs.

Here's what the money pays for:

  • Small student/teacher ratio. The class has 20 students and three teachers, including one lead teacher and two assistants.
  • Researched-based curriculum. Most of the Children's Aid sites use a curriculum called Tools of the Mind, which emphasizes dramatic play, controlling impulses and planning a set of tasks, like writing "play plans." The curriculum is tied to the Common Core learning standards for pre-k.
  • Student assessments. Teachers are expected to observe and note each child's development. If a child is, say, exhibiting trouble with letters, numbers or motor skills then the teacher is expected to individualize instruction to help students advance.
  • Certified teachers. Lead teachers hold either bachelor's or master's degrees along with certification in early childhood. Children's Aid said it pays teachers with a master's degree around $45,000 per year, depending on experience. 
  • Teacher support. Children's Aid employs education directors that meet with teachers once a week to help them figure out how to give that targeted support to students. Teachers have a professional development day once a month and they attend professional development sessions with the curriculum developers three to four times per year.
  • Family support. Children's Aid hires family workers to address a multitude of needs at home, including referrals to health providers, hooking up with a local food bank or providing financial literacy classes.

Hear our story to get a sense of how these elements play out in a Children's Aid classroom on 101st Street in Manhattan.

 

Tags:

News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [2]

Tiffany

Took my kid out after 10 months paying 1000 a month for three days a week for day care. Drained my savings account and my child learned nothing except how to get sick. Disappointed in the care. If quality pre k were given it would only benefit the child. But for now I keep my 3 year old home and I teach him myself and save money.

Feb. 05 2014 04:31 PM
landless from Brooklyn

It beats leaving your kid with an untrained care provider in a unlicensed home day care arrangement

Feb. 05 2014 12:20 PM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.

Sponsored