Education News: Universal Pre-K

BpOV0skIgAABN_YLast Tuesday, June 3, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, Richard Buery, attended and participated in a round-table discussion on the Mayor’s universal pre-K goals and programs (a top priority of de Blasio’s administration). The discussion with educators, administrators, and bloggers (including Amy Oztan of Selfish Mom, Isabel Kallman of alphamom, and New York Family’s associate editor, Mia Weber)–which was followed by a press conference–took place at PS 239 in Queens (also known as the school at which Mayor de Blasio read The Very Hungry Caterpillar).

Taking questions from the dedicated educators at PS 239–including the school’s principal, Robin Connolly, and reading teachers, pre-K teachers, and more, Mayor de Blasio touched on the merits of early childhood education and the facts that city parents need to understand and navigate the new universal pre-K system–which promises 25,000 slots and a new generic application form.

Among the many points discussed, the Mayor touched on the fact that the pre-K setting is great for building a foundation for any child’s education, and ensuring that children aren’t overwhelmed by the “culture shock” of coming into the more formal Kindergarten environment. “Everything works better thereafter,” de Blasio said of the positive affects on a child after they go through a pre-K program.

And though the de Blasio administration has faced concerns that the roll-out of the pre-K programming may have been rushed, the attitude that he and Buery held was one of optimism. They both noted that standards of quality for all new programs will be of the same caliber that existing city programs, plus–there will be plenty of excellent community program options for parents who happen to not get their first choice (a relevant note, given that the New York Times recently reported that less than half of New York City’s applicants for Pre-K got their top-choice school).

Of course, the inherent anxiety of the pre-K application process that many city parents are feeling is not lost on de Blasio (a public school parent himself)–and to counter those feelings, he recommended that parents be very proactive with submitting their applications, emphasizing the positive aspects of the new application system.

“This is one of those good things in life,” de Blasio said when asked what advice he would give to anxious parents eager to utilize their resources. “You’re applying for free with a one-page form to as many places as you want… I’ve been hearing from a lot of parents about work-place location and the subway lines they take. They would have loved to go to their zoned school, but four stops down the subway line there’s another great location–a lot of parents are going to be very comfortable with that.”

Additionally, read on for the steps that the Mayor’s Office recommends that parents seeking a pre-K slot should take:

*Last Thursday, the Department of Education sent notifications to parents who applied for pre-K at public schools by the April 23 deadline. Parents will have until June 20 to register their child at a school to which they were accepted.

*After June 20, parents can apply in person at a public school for available seats remaining or to place their child on a waitlist.

*Applications at CBECCs are open now and parents are encouraged to apply, even if they have also applied to public school programs. The Department of Education urges families to apply by June 26th to have the best chance of finding the right program. Admissions remain open through October 1.

*Additional seats at district schools, CBECCs, charter schools and parochial institutions will be made available in the weeks ahead. The Department of Education will notify parents about newly available seats in time to apply.

*All pre-K programs at public schools and CBECCs are listed and mapped at, and additional information about each program is available through the website. Online applications are now open for CBECCs.

*To find a free pre-K in your neighborhood and receive alerts and information, visit or text 877877.