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Seattle Joins U.S. Cities for First-Ever Universal Pre-K Policy Forum in New York City

“Pre-K for All” Convening Re-Affirms Commitment to Free, Equitable pre-Kindergarten in Seattle and Across the Country

OCTOBER 6, 2016

Leaders from Seattle, Erica Johnson (Senior Policy Advisor, Early Learning Division) and Leilani Dela Cruz (Operations Manager, Early Learning Division) today will join policymakers from 12 municipal governments across the country in the first-ever convening to establish a network of cities dedicated to providing high-quality pre-kindergarten education to students, nationwide.

Held in New York City, the forum will allow for diverse municipalities to take part in an ongoing national dialogue about increasing access to high-quality education for all children regardless of their race, socio-economic status or zip code. Studies have shown that pre-kindergarten leads to better long-term academic and behavioral outcomes for children. Moreover, evaluations of existing universal pre-K programs reveal a significant financial benefit to low and middle class families who struggle with childcare costs.

During the October 6th Learning Lab, policy makers from participating cities will take part in roundtable discussions examining achievements, challenges, and lessons learned from NYC’s Pre-K for All expansion, sharing ideas and insights gained from their own city’s pre-K experiences. The Learning Lab is an opportunity for pre-K leaders to build relationships and identify thought partners for ongoing collaboration on how to implement high-quality pre-K that best meets the needs of children and families in their own municipalities, learning from other cities’ experiences. Finally, the host City and visiting policymakers will be encouraged to work together to advocate in support of expanding access and funding to early childhood education.

“As we work to implement the Seattle Preschool Program which aims to provide affordable and quality preschool to every family with preschool-age children, I am pleased that Seattle is participating in this gathering of national education leaders on best practices in early learning,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.  “Early learning is the cornerstone to building a 21st century education system that will prepare our nation’s students to fully participate in tomorrow’s economy.”

“Free, full-day, high quality pre-K is a game-changer for more than 70,400 four-year-olds in New York City,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Delivering high quality pre-K is an essential part of our commitment to equity and excellence for all students and we’re thrilled to welcome this diverse group of cities who share our belief that our youngest learners must have a strong foundation to succeed in college and their careers. Municipal governments must work together to share best practices and lessons learned, and this summit is an essential step in building a strong network of policymakers who, together, will continue to advocate for expanded access to quality early education for every child nationwide.”

“Pre-K for all is all about high quality programs, and when we share best practices, children are the real winners,” said New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina.”  “This forum is an invaluable opportunity for visiting cities to learn from our achievements, and perhaps more importantly from the challenges we faced, while also fostering a thoughtful, long-term discussion about how to expand access to pre-K education in New York City and across the country.”

“It’s an honor to welcome such a diverse group of cities aligned in the belief that every child deserves free, high-quality early education,” said Richard Buery, New York City Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “What we did in New York City is testament to the role municipal governments can play in promoting equity and keeping the American Dream within reach for the next generation. The Pre-K For All Cities network is a critical next step in expanding access so that children across the country can reap the long-term benefits of a pre-kindergarten education.”

Seattle Preschool Program launched in Fall 2015, and is in it’s second year. The program currently has over 30 classrooms city-wide, and is providing full-day, affordable, high-quality preschool to over 600 students. Seattle Preschool Program anchors it’s quality improvements in supporting the growth of teachers through professional development, in-class coaching, tuition support to complete an early learning degree, and increased pay for teachers.

In New York City, 70 percent of four and five year olds are enrolled in a Universal Pre-k Program. As of the first day of the 2016-17 school year, over 70,400 children were registered for free, full-day, high quality pre-K, up from 19,287 prior to the start of Pre-K for All. This extra year of learning is a critical part of this administration’s commitment to equity and excellence for all students, and a way to address disparities in educational opportunity for our city’s youngest learners.
The 13 cities participating in this year’s Learning Lab are:

  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Dayton, OH
  • Mesa, AZ
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Nashville, TN
  • New York City, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • San Antonio, TX
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle, WA
  • Tulsa, OK