Mayor aims to double pre-K enrollment in four years

Mayor Walsh today announced a task force to look at ways to dramatically increase the number of kids in full-day pre-school programs by 2018.

There are currently 6,000 four-year-olds in Boston, but that number is expected to grow to 8,000 by 2030. About one-third of four-year-olds in the city are currently enrolled in the city K1 program. Another quarter attend no pre-school program at all.

According to the mayor's office, the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Advisory Committee

Will look at many factors including class space requirements, teacher qualifications, funding requirements, and potential partnerships for before school, after school, and summer wrap-around services. Thrive in 5, a partnership between the Mayor's Office and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, and other community partners will conduct a series of stakeholder focus groups across Boston, and offer online surveys to gather input about the strengths and needs of all of the City’s neighborhoods for high-quality pre-kindergarten. The Advisory Committee will make its recommendations for a mixed delivery system to Major Walsh in November 2014.

The committee will be co-chaired by Jeri Robinson, vice president for education and family learning at the Boston Children's Museum and Jason Sachs, director of early childhood, Boston Public Schools.

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Great to hear that the new

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Great to hear that the new mayor has found a pot of gold to pay for this.

No gold needed

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Pre-K kids cost almost nothing to put in schools. Gets a lot more expensive as they get older. BPS in the upper grades is shrinking due to a combination of demographics and transfers to charters etc. If you change the "mix" of students to the younger grades - you can justify increasing the budget while keeping certain costs down. Helps cover fixed costs and also funds raises etc. throughout the system.

What I'd like to know though is that if we aren't building any new homes for families and the homes that remain get ever more expensive driving out families that are here - how does their analysis determine that we are going to have all these extra little kids living in the city?

That's a 33% increase in about 15 years in a city growing at about half that rate.

No new kids needed

We'll have fewer kids, but even fewer parents who both want to and can afford to stay at home with their own kids.

The only sound in the playgrounds between leashed together groups of frantic urchins will be crickets.

So nice of the city to

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So nice of the city to provide "free" daycare. I'm sure the rest of us struggling to make ends meet and taking care of our own children will love paying for it.

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Actually saves money

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The sooner you get kids into the system, the better prepared they are for higher grades. which means less retention and more graduates. The earlier kids with learning disabilities get services, the fewer services they need later.

I'm thrilled my tax dollars would go to prevent issues rather than react to them. I had to pay for day care so I could work when my daughter was small. I'd be happy if a quality option was open to all families who wanted it. You know that means more jobs, right? And less need for someone to stay out of the workforce because there were children at home.

What's needed

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We don't need more pre-K. We need more babysitting. Using pre-K as your babysitter just puts kids in a structured environment at a young age and destroys creativity and social adjustment.

Of course, there's little Marty can do to add babysitting other than opening government babysitting centers with subsidized sitters. But he can sure sell pre-K because everyone wants their kid to be the smartest kid in kindergarten (note: only one of all of the kids can be the smartest, the odds are against you).

And babysitting costs just keep rising at the same time with zero availability no matter what the price.

What is pre-K?

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I remember going to Tiny Tots in the municipal building before hitting K-1, but all I can remember is nap time. I hated nap time. The irony is that now that I have a kid, I want him to take a nap so I can nap, too. Now kindergarten a different set of memories- that's when the alphabet, numbers, and tying one's shoes (I was the last on in the class to get that down) came up.

The little guy is in daycare in a center. At the ripe old age of 18 months there is a schedule of events every day. He learns a lot, mostly from the example of his classmates that he'll never get as an only child. I'm just glad he gets a nap every day.

It doesn't matter what the

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It doesn't matter what the mayor does to add seats in pre-k if there is no change in the licensing rules that keep pre-k students out of licensed after school child care programs. Right now, full-day preschool programs can keep kids until they start kindergarten, and licensed surround care programs can't take kids until they start K2. If you're a working family, this probably means that you keep your kids in full day daycare until they're five. Unfortunately, this also limits your kindy options to the larger elementary schools that don't fill all their kindy seats from the pre-k program, and keeps families out of charter schools at the elementary level.

There's also a screaming need for more after school childcare programs. The existing supply does not meet the demand.

Decrease in enrollment

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They won't have to build any seats in South Boston or the Seaport area. There's no families here.

this increase is entirely kids of working professionals

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Who may or may not even send their kids to BPS (unless they get into Latin). Walsh needs to figure out how to capture this group to increase enrollment. Hint - they aren't going to send their kids to charters - and they're scared of their kids ending up in a "turn-around" school.