By: Mike Clifford, Public News Service – NY
Governor Andrew Cuomo has been using competitive grants to spur competition among school districts, but today lawmakers are being urged to not rely on that approach for early education funding. The jury is out on competitive grants, according to Danielle Asher, early childhood education campaign coordinator with the Long Island Progressive Coalition; she says maybe they’ll work, maybe not.
That’s why Asher says it’s dangerous to use that system to fund early education programs, which she says have been proved to save the state money and provide a quality education.
“It is proven to reduce grade repetition and disciplinary referrals, special education costs; it will save the state $22 million to $32 million, so we need to invest in Pre-K programs.”
Asher is one of the more than 100 parents, teachers and advocates traveling to Albany to urge lawmakers to restore $53 million in early education funding to the general fund. The Board of Regents also backs that approach, while Governor Cuomo lumped funding for early education into $250 million in competitive grants in his executive budget.
Currently, many of New York’s youngest children are on waiting lists to get into early-learning programs, according to Marsha Basloe, executive director of the Early Care and Learning Council. She says that’s a shame, because decades worth of studies show these programs work.
“Students that participate in quality early-care and learning programs are far more likely to attend college and get higher-paying jobs; avoid teen pregnancy; avoid welfare dependency; avoid delinquency and/or crime.”
Basloe plans to meet with lawmakers to talk about the need to find $20 million to fund a Quality Stars program to rate local early education programs.
A news briefing is planned for 11 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building.