Universal Pre-K by the numbers on LI

Kimberly Jean-Pierre, 11th Assembly District Representative

Universal pre-kindergarten is the most direct way to address the growing inequality in New York [“Access to Pre-K: Elusive on LI,” News, March 20]. Pre-K has proved to close opportunity and achievement gaps. Children who receive high-quality early education are more likely to succeed in grade school, high school and throughout their adult lives.

Even though the evidence is clear, the majority of Long Island families are living without quality pre-K education, and the few schools that do provide it have to compete each year for grants and funding. Today, 61 percent of New York State’s four-year olds are still waiting to receive a full day pre-K education. In high-needs districts on Long Island, that number soars to 79 percent.

In 10 high-needs districts in Long Island, 3,731 children, many from low-income families, have been left without full day pre-K. Half-day pre-K is not enough, especially because working parents cannot transport their children to and from these programs and definitely cannot leave their children unattended for the second half of the day.

It’s not unreasonable to ask for higher taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers, who make millions of dollars every year, to invest a little more so we can provide the funds to make universal pre-K and other important programs a reality.