De Blasio, Pelosi visit Brooklyn school to tout Universal pre-K
House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi visited Brooklyn on Wednesday to showcase a pre-K program at P.S. 123 in Bushwick with U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
Pelosi touted the mayor’s universal pre-K initiative and urged the U.S. to take the program nationwide – a $75 billion proposition which has stalled in Congress.
De Blasio told Pelosi that 68,500 city kids attended full day pre-K. “Just for perspective sake, that is more children than the entire school system of Boston, or the entire – sorry I have to say this – the entire school system of San Francisco, your hometown,” he said.
The mayor added that he thought universal pre-K had strong bipartisan support “because it is such a clear and effective investment.”
Pelosi noted that a bill in Congress called A Strong Start for America’s Children, championed by Democrat Bobby Scott of Virginia, is co-sponsored by Representative Richard Hanna of New York on the Republican side. Still, the bill has mired down due to disagreements on funding.
“They just don’t want to pay for it, and that’s the problem,” Pelosi said, referring to Republicans. She said that President Obama has proposed that pre-K programs be paid for partially by the tobacco tax.
Chancellor Fariña said that one of the major differences between New York City’s pre-K and programs in other cities is that “we have a common curriculum. Wherever you see pre-K in the city of New York, pretty much, all the pre-K’s, whether they are in the parochial schools, in the yeshivas, are doing the same curriculum you saw today.”
After observing the children playing with toys, sand and computer games, De Blasio, Pelosi and Velazquez took turns reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle to the youngsters.
“OK everyone, are we ready for a story?” de Blasio asked the kids, according to pool reporter Eliza Shapiro from Politico. De Blasio held the book aloft and as he read from it, asked the children to identify objects on the page — “Where’s the egg? Where’s the moon?”
The children applauded the reading efforts of the pols.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has proposed a $10 billion federal program that would provide access to preschool education for all children through a federal-state partnership, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. Other presidential hopefuls have also voiced support for pre-K education for all.
This story was updated on April 6 at 9 p.m. with quotes from elected officials.