New York State Education Commissioner John King and Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch touted the virtues of early childhood education during a Friday morning visit to P.S. 229 Emanual Kaplan in Maspeth, Queens.
Joined by School Chancellor Dennis Walcott, the state education officials observed young students as they studied the alphabet and learned how to draw picture stories. In one instance, Chancellor Tisch stepped in to help, guiding a five-year-old girl through the picture exercise.
Later, Tisch said she was elated at the students’ enthusiasm, which she said was a strong indicator of the need for more early childhood programs.
“It’s time for New York State to place a significant bet on funding pre-K programs that are full day,” she said. “We know districts across this state, particularly New York City, returned so much money to the state that they couldn’t use, because parents want a full day slot.”
Tisch said that the law currently does not allow for state money to be used in funding full day programs. “We know that kids who get these early beginnings with professional leadership have a big head start on kids who don’t, so these markers need to be put in place.”
Dr. Sibylle Ajwani, the school principal, said pre-kindergarten was the foundation of the school’s efforts to create effective learners.
“We can still fix them (children) in kindergarten,” she said. “It’s really hard to fix them later.”