Parents, Children and Community Organizations Join Elected Officials in Rally for More Universal Pre-K seats on the Upper East Side

05/01/2017

New York, NY - Four-year-olds and their parents rallied alongside elected officials at St Catherine’s Park on the Upper East Side to demand that the Department of Education to fulfill its duty to the Community and provide a Universal Pre-K seat for the over almost 300 four-year-old’s who were not offered seats in the neighborhood.
 
In 2014 WNYC  reported that 2,767 four-year-olds only had 151 pre-kindergarten seats. Since taking office Council Member Kallos has worked with community leaders and organization, providers and the Department of Education to bring hundreds of seats to his district and joined with Council Member Garodnick to bring dozens to the Upper East Side, quadrupling the number of seats for the 2016-17 school year to 618.
 
This year, the Upper East Side lost seats, while applications increased leaving over 900 four-year-olds with only 596 seats on the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, and Midtown East. Children have been assigned to schools not even list as choices by parents as far away as the financial district.
 
On April 17, Council Member Kallos authored a letter with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, Assembly Member Dan Quart and Council Member Dan Garodnick, to the Department of Education demanding seats for every four-year-old in the neighborhood.
 
Now the elected officials join with four-year-olds, parents, to demand a pre-kindergarten for all four-year-olds on the Upper East Side in their neighborhood.
 
“It’s Pre-K for some but not for all. Pre-K for All, must include seats for all four-year-olds on the Upper East Side in their neighborhood,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Over 300 four-year-olds on the Upper East Side are being told it's time to commute hours per day down to the financial district. An overcrowded subway train is no place for a four-year-old.”
 
“On the East Side of Manhattan, there are way more children than there are pre-school seats available and that's simply unacceptable. Nearly one in three children that applied had no seat and many parents were offered seats far from their homes or workplaces. For a working parent, the extra commuting time needed to drop off and pick up a child makes the whole idea of public pre-K impossible. If you cannot get your child to the school, the child is simply not going to go. Offering a parent a placement in a school 45 minutes and two subway transfers from home is the same as not offering them a place at all. We need more pre-K seats on the Upper East Side and we need them now,” said Congress Member Carolyn Maloney. “I want to congratulate Councilman Ben Kallos for organizing this rally and fighting for better access to early childhood education for the East Side. I'm glad to be part of this coalition with my colleagues in asking the city to make sure that there is a pre-K seat in this neighborhood for every child who needs one.”
 
"Every child deserves access to high-quality public education options close to home. In our great City, that should be true whether you live in East New York or on the Upper East side. Yet hundreds of Upper East Side families have been overlooked by the neighborhood's current universal pre-K allotments, which only cover a fraction of this year's twenty-five hundred applications.  It is essential that the City honor its promise to provide universal pre-K for all, and make more seats available to this community and its families," said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.

"Pre-K for all is a groundbreaking and vital program for New York families. But for it to be truly accessible, seats must be available within a reasonable distance from home. Increasingly, that is not the case on the Upper East Side. Today we call on the Department of Education to fulfill the promise of pre-k, and ensure a truly accessible seat for every child," said State Senator Liz Krueger.
 
“Pre-K for all has not been fully realized until every eligible child in our district has access to a classroom in their neighborhood.   In Albany, we fought for a budget to provide $817 million for Pre-K programs, $5 million to expand half day and full day Pre-K for 3 and 4-year-olds in high needs districts across the state.  We must see the results of our budgetary efforts at home in our districts. Only then, can we ensure that Pre-K for all is truly inclusive of all and our youngest learners are set on the path to success," said Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright.
 
"Access to high-quality pre-K programs help our kids flourish, but for too many families in the Upper East Side that access is out of reach. Our neighborhoods are in need of critical investments for more classrooms and seats to support our youngest learners. As a dad, I know that it's never too early to put our kids on a path to success, so I call upon city officials to help our children gain the skills and tools they need to reach their full potential," said Assembly Member Dan Quart
 
"When it comes to the Upper East Side, Pre-K for All looks a lot like Pre-K for Some," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "We must hold the Department of Education accountable for the lack of pre-K seats in our community. They must move faster. They must live up to their promise and accommodate every child."


PRESS CONTACTS:
 
Congress Member Carolyn Maloney:
Grace Harman, Grace [dot] Harmanatmail [dot] house [dot] gov, 212-860-0606
 
Public Advocate Letitia James
Anna Brower, abroweratpubadvocate [dot] nyc [dot] gov,
 
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer:
Andrew Goldston, Agoldstonatmanhattanbp [dot] nyc [dot] gov, 917-720-7895
 
Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright:
Katarina Matic, matickatassembly [dot] state [dot] ny [dot] us, 212-288-4607
 
Council Member Ben Kallos:
Josh J. Jamieson, JJamiesonatbenkallos [dot] com, 212-860-1960
 
Council Member Dan Garodnick:
Cory Epstein, CEpsteinatcouncil [dot] nyc [dot] gov, 646 946 4519