New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo need to get on the same page when it comes to prekindergarten.
If they both believe that it is an important way to jump-start young lives, and they do, then they should work together for the greater good.
So far, that isn’t happening. Instead, as reported in the New York Times, de Blasio and Cuomo seem to be having their own “friendly” political sparring match over how to achieve universal pre-K.
Regents Chancellor Emeritus Robert Bennett has long talked about the clear advantages of an early childhood education. He has said that universal pre-K could offer our greatest return on investment.
The Regents would like to see pre-K mandated statewide, so that it doesn’t get cut at the local level. We agree. And the state should insist that well-qualified teachers are in front of these kids.
President Obama, also pushing universal pre-K, stresses the importance of the early years of a child’s life in building the foundation needed for success later in school and life. Pre-K is ubiquitous in many European countries. Not so here. For us, it’s an option. It shouldn’t be.
Cuomo and de Blasio have a lot in common, including their similar ages. De Blasio worked for Cuomo when the New York governor was Bill Clinton’s HUD secretary. Each man is a star in his own right, Cuomo with his political pedigree and de Blasio after taking the city by storm.
They know each other. They like each other … just ask either man. The repeated assertions of friendship are getting to be a little much, but OK. It would be easier to swallow if the two would sit down and hash out their differences over how to pay for universal pre-K.
Until then, de Blasio is trying to figure out how he is going to persuade his buddy to go along with his plan to fund the expansion of pre-K in the Big Apple by taxing the rich. That populist idea is aimed at city residents earning more than $500,000 a year.
The governor, on the other hand, is interested in cutting taxes. He says, and we agree, that New York must become more business-friendly and raising taxes will not accomplish that.
More recently in his State of the State speech, the governor announced his intention to make prekindergarten available throughout New York State. We’re waiting to hear how he would pay for such an expansion, but it’s a worthy proposal.
The New York City mayor and the governor have the same goal on pre-K. Now they have to get together on how to carry it out.