Quinn to Call for Mandatory Kindergarten in State of the City Speech

By Jill Colvin on February 8, 2012 8:56pm 

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn introduces Helen Marshall at the 2012 State of the Borough Address in Queens.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn introduces Helen Marshall at the 2012 State of the Borough Address in Queens.
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DNAinfo/Nick Hirshon

MANHATTAN — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is expected to call for mandatory kindergarten for all New York City children during her annual State of the City address Thursday.

Every year, nearly 3,000 5-year-olds don’t enroll in kindergarten, missing out on critical early education, Quinn’s office said.

"That means thousands of kids enter first grade every year having never set foot in a classroom,” an early excerpt from her speech reads.

Her office noted that high-need communities are typically the most severely impacted by a lack of early education. She added that many — including English language learners and special-needs students — have been turned away from schools because of overcrowding.

Wait-lists have become standard across Manhattan, causing headaches for parents from lower Manhattan to the Upper East Side.

“We're going to make sure this never happens to another family,” Quinn is expected to say, announcing that she has been working with the state Legislature to introduce a bill that would allow the city to make kindergarten mandatory — a move the state must approve.

“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 speech reads.

In addition to the kindergarten effort, Quinn is also expected to introduce a new program designed to help middle-income families access affordable, high-quality day care.

The program, which comes a week after Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a budget that would slash thousands of day-care and after-school slots, would create a new loan program that would cover up to 50 percent of the cost of childcare for families making between $40,452.50 and $111,750 a year.

The program would be the only to offer financial assistance to families with incomes that high above the poverty line.

"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,” Quinn's speech reads.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn poses wih Darren Rosenblum and his daughter, Melina, 2, outside the Stonewall Inn.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn poses wih Darren Rosenblum and his daughter, Melina, 2, outside the Stonewall Inn.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

The speaker, who is widely expected to run for mayor in 2013, is set to deliver her 2012 State of the City address at noon at City Hall.

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