In her State of the City speech tomorrow, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will propose mandatory kindergarten for all city five-year-olds and a loan program that would cover up to 50 percent of the cost of childcare for middle class families, according to a preview made available by her office today.
Quinn, a frontrunner to replace Michael Bloomberg as mayor in 2013, will highlight the fact that nearly 3,000 children are currently not attending kindergarten, many from high-needs communities. She will propose to make kindergarten mandatory through legislation.
“Every year nearly 3,000 5-year-olds in New York City don’t enroll in kindergarten,” Quinn will say in the speech. “That means thousands of kids enter first grade every year having never set foot in a classroom. We’re going to make sure this never happens to another family. We’re working with the State Legislature to introduce a bill allowing New York City to make kindergarten mandatory. Let’s get serious about early childhood education, and require every 5-year-old to enroll in kindergarten, and make sure the DOE is prepared and willing to take them.”
The speaker will also announce plans to launch a new program providing “high quality” childcare for working families, with the goal of making the service available to “tens of thousands of New York City children.”
Quinn notes that there are currently no financial assistance programs available to families who earn between $40,452.50 and $111,750 a year, or more than 275 percent of the federal poverty level.
“This program is the first of its kind in the nation – and could become a model that provides financial stability and quality care for families across the country. Because it’s not just about helping people get jobs today. It’s about keeping them secure far into the future, and making sure that the next generation has the opportunity for success.”
Earlier this month, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer used his State of the Borough address to highlight programs, like a restructured city tax code, that were seen as an opening salvo in his eventual campaign for mayor. It goes without saying that Quinn’s speech tomorrow will be seen through the exact same lens. Toward that end, it would seem like the speaker is looking to appeal to families with children, an area where Bloomberg, with his constant battles over education and teaching, has been struggling recently.
Quinn’s speech will be at noon tomorrow in the Council chambers at City Hall.
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