Make Kindergarten a Must for Every City Kid: Council

State Pols, City DOE Back Mandate

City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced that State Sen. John J. Flanagan, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Education, will introduce legislation allowing New York City to make kindergarten mandatory.

This legislation will give New York City the authority to lower the compulsory age of schooling to five years old.

The city Department of Education has indicated support for the proposal, and will reportedly work with the City Council to make it a reality.

Every year, Quinn said, thousands of five-year olds in New York City don’t enroll in kindergarten classes that provide a foundation for a strong education.

Quinn first proposed mandatory kindergarten this past February in her annual State of the City address.

A study conducted by the Rand Corporation found that early education not only provides children with the skills they need to succeed in school throughout their lifetime, it also makes economic sense, as the return on investment on early childhood education is nearly 7 to 1.

A 2005 MIT study also shows children who receive early childhood education are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to drop out or to have to repeat a grade. These children are also less likely to need remediation or special education services or become incarcerated. Moreover, they also show higher academic gains and achievement throughout their professional careers.

“The most powerful thing we can do to show our commitment to college and career readiness is to take responsibility, as a city, for ensuring that all children have access to a high quality early childhood education,” said Quinn. “The skills children learn in kindergarten set them up for success throughout their educational careers and throughout their lives. I thank Senator Flannigan and Assemblywoman Nolan for their support, and I look forward to working with the DOE to make this a reality.”

“The Assembly Majority with the support of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have long championed early childhood education in New York,” said Nolan. “I want to thank Speaker Christine Quinn and the New York City Council for supporting this legislation and I look forward to continuing to work with them and other stakeholders to enhance the education of all students.”

“We support efforts to expand kindergarten education for New York City families,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott. “I look forward to working with the Speaker’s office on advancing legislation that gives us the flexibility to do so.”

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