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School is in session for 51,000 Pre-K Students

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It was the first day of school today and for 51,000 new Pre-k students, this marked the largest New York City first day of school in pre-k due to a historic enrollment effort on the part of Mayor Bill de Blasio and The New York City Department of Education to get the word out. The news was reported in media outlets nationwide, and in The New York City Department of Education web site http://www.chalkbeat.org.

The New York Daily News, and http://www1.nyc.gov, among countless more outlets today (September 4) reported on this story. Most years 20,000 new Pre-K students are enrolled by September 4, but this year Pre-K-for-All became a campaign promise delivered by Mayo Bill de Blasio in this historic initiative. Here is a look at some highlights from today’s t day for 51,000 New York City Pre-K students.

The New York Daily News called today the "centerpiece" of his battle against income inequality. The newspaper pointed out that Mayor de Blasio on Thursday kicked off the school year by visiting preschool sites in all five boroughs to highlight his dramatic expansion of pre-kindergarten programs.
“De Blasio choked back tears as he called the start of universal Pre-K - which will see 30,000 more children enrolled in preschool than last year -- a "joyous day" that would change the lives of many families,” according to http://www.nydailynews.com.

“Speaking at Innerforce Tots, a privately run preschool program in Brooklyn, de Blasio's voice broke as he talked about what the programs mean to him and to First Lady Chirlane McCray,” added The New York Daily News, based on comments by the NYC Mayor. He added that it was something they've wanted as a couple ever since their oldest child, Chiara, now 19, was in Pre-K.

“At one point, McCray, who was at de Blasio's side throughout the press conference, started crying. When she took the mic, she said she was emotional because she was so happy,” added the report. "I'm a little shaky and teary because this moment means so much for these children," she said.
“(Bill) de Blasio ran for mayor last year on a pledge of providing universal Pre-K, and he waged a bruising political battle with Gov. Cuomo to win the state funding necessary to fulfill his promise. His administration then worked all summer to get the expanded program off the ground,” added the report today.

“Thursday was a big day for the de Blasio family in another way: The mayor's son, Dante, celebrated his 17th birthday and began the first day of his senior year in high school,” according to the report.
The report in The New York Daily News added that "more than one million New York City public school students marched off to the first day of school on Thursday, and joining them in that sea of new knapsacks and pressed uniforms were more than 50,000 of the city’s very smallest children.”

These were the first students in the city’s vastly expanded prekindergarten program, and many were delighted to be taking part, added http://www.chalkbeat.org. “She got up at 6 o’clock and said, ‘Mommy, it’s the first day of school,' ” said Ayana Winchester, whose daughter, Syvanah, 4, started prekindergarten at the Pinocchio Children’s Palace in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. “I had to send her back to bed.”
For the city’s Department of Education, Thursday marks the start of a school year that includes a variety of shifts and challenges, like the continued adoption of the Common Core standards and some significant modifications to the teachers’ union contract, added today’s report in The New York Daily News.

Mayor Bill de Blasio expended tremendous manpower and political capital during his first eight months in office to more than double the city’s prekindergarten capacity, an effort to fulfill his campaign promise of offering full-day prekindergarten for every 4-year-old in New York City, added The New York Times. He said that expanding prekindergarten would improve the school system as a whole, added http://wwww.nydailynews.com.

“You spend a few moments in that classroom, you see the future of New York City education,” Mr. de Blasio said of the program at Inner Force Tots. “Every one of those children has a strong foundation. It’s going to help other children. The whole classroom experience is going to improve. All boats will be lifted as more and more kids are prepared,” added De Blasio in his remarks

Carmen. Fariña, NYC Schools Chancellor thanked the Education Department staff members who had worked nights and weekends to make the prekindergarten expansion go smoothly, saying she received one call last weekend at 1 in the morning. She said educators liked to achieve the impossible. “When people say it can’t be done, we’re out to prove them wrong,” she said to the media. Officials have said 51,500 children were enrolled so far, just a whisker shy of the city’s goal of 53,000 seats in this first year of expansion, added the report.

According to http://www1.nyc.gov, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today launched the largest and most ambitious expansion of Pre-K of any city in the nation’s history. In total, 51,500 children are now registered to attend full-day, high-quality Pre-K—more than double the 20,000 children who attended those programs last year.

The launch of “Pre-K for All” has been a monumental undertaking spanning a dozen City agencies, involving thousands of teachers and education professionals, and partnering with hundreds of schools and community-based providers. This is the first stage of a two-year expansion that will bring full-day Pre-K to all 73,000 eligible 4-year-olds in New York City, added the web site.

The Launch of Pre-K for All, by the numbers provided by http://www1.nyc.gov
• 51,500 4-year-olds registered for programs
• 1,655 public schools and Community-Based Early Childhood Centers providing pre-K
• 180 days of education lasting 6 hours and 20 minutes
• $300 million in new Pre-K funding
• 1,000 new Pre-K lead teachers
• 6,000 inspections and site visits to Pre-K centers this summer by the FDNY, health department, buildings department, and the Department of Education to ensure the safety and quality of every site.

According to http://www.chalkbeat.org, “When Kelly Eng tried to enroll her daughter in pre-kindergarten this summer, she found that all of the spots at P.S. 229 in Brooklyn were full. The same was true at nearby P.S. 748 and at local community-based organizations. So Eng widened her search to Manhattan, where—a few waitlists later—she found an opening at Grand Street Settlement in Chinatown.”
It’s at least an hour-long commute from their Dyker Heights home but she’s happy to have it. “I feel lucky,” Eng said as she filled out forms on a child-size chair on Thursday morning. Mayor Bill de Blasio undoubtedly does too. City officials said more than 51,500 children had signed up for full-day Pre-K starting this week in schools and community organizations like Grand Street, approaching the city’s goal of 53,000 and nearly doubling the number in those programs last year. And day one went off mostly without a hitch, added http://www.chalkbeat.org.

To double and triple check that all sites were up to code, the departments of buildings, health, fire and education conducted about 6,000 inspections and walk-throughs. And, in August, the city offered an optional free training for more than 4,000 teachers to go over a Common Core-aligned curriculum and share best practices with one another, according to Chalkbeat.

On the first day of school, de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña visited schools with Pre-K, including Journey Prep School in the Bronx, and Home Sweet Home Children’s School in Queens, and Inner Force Tots, where Fariña again defended the quality of the site inspections, according to Chalkbeat.
Staten Island early childhood educators are back to work, but not all jobs are filled and not all seats are filled. So parents may sign up now at some sites. Come on Staten Island parents, now is the time to enroll your child in their first adventure in school. Summer may be over, but at Pre-K the fun has just begun! Staten Island teachers and parents tell us your comments and feedback about Pre-K For All and this new historic initiative in early childhood education!

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