pre-K education

Ellen Abbott

Research shows a connection between early childhood education and crime. Central New York boosters of universal pre-kindergarten say that should be an important consideration when it comes to funding quality programs.

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler says the statistics logically lead to the conclusion that pre-K prevents crime.

Katie Keier / Flickr

The Nov. 4 ballot includes an amendment to borrow $2 billion to buy new technology for school children, like iPads and other tablets. Fiscal watchdogs are against it and the reaction of the education community has been lukewarm. But with one week left to go before Election Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who came up with idea, has finally started to push for it.

Brad Flickinger / Flickr

New York's November ballot includes a proposal for the state to borrow $2 billion to spend on technology, like computer tablets, for school children. But a fiscal watchdog group says it’s not a good way to finance the purchase of iPads.

The bond act would give New York state permission to borrow money primarily to invest in new technology for students in elementary and secondary schools. It would also include money for building more classrooms for expanded pre-kindergarten.

James F Clay / Flickr

Fewer than 20 percent of school districts outside of New York City have expressed interest in expanding their pre-kindergarten programs. Critics say that falls far short of the goals of a program billed in the state budget as  universal pre-K.

When the state budget was approved on March 31, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders touted funding for pre-kindergarten that they said could lead to making it universal in New York state.

Senate Co-leader Jeff Klein was one of its biggest advocates.

Katie Keier / Flickr

Only half of the children in Onondaga County are ready to start their primary school educations when they reach kindergarten, a new report from the Onondaga Citizens League has found.

The report, the latest from OCL in annual studies looking at community issues, says more focus needs to be put on educating children before they reach a classroom.

There are 27,000 children under the age of five in the county. They'll go to 18 different school districts.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders are still struggling to come to a final budget agreement, after the time for an expected announcement came and went on Friday.

Optimistic lawmakers had predicted a final accord on the budget by mid day Friday, but in the end, were unable to achieve that goal.

Update as of 7:00 a.m. Friday:

Legislative leaders say they expect to have a final agreement on a state budget later today. They need a deal by midday in order to be on schedule for an on time budget when the fiscal year ends on Monday.

Update as of 4:45 p.m. Thursday:

Legislative leaders are less hopeful now that a budget agreement can be reached Thursday because there are too many unresolved details.

When the budget deal is finally reached in Albany, average New Yorkers will have had little access to the details of the important items that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers are discussing. That's because the longtime Albany tradition known as "Three Men in a Room" continues.

The only difference from the decades long tradition of three men in a room budget negotiations is now there are four men in a room. The Senate is led by a coalition of Republicans and breakaway Democrats, and so has two co-leaders.

Legislative leaders say they are working together and are close to a budget agreement, after last week's blow up that left the Senate and Assembly leaders negotiating separately with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The legislative leaders, following a two-hour, closed-door meeting with the governor, seemed in high spirits. Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos gave his oftentimes rival Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver a hug.

“Look how much I love Shelly,” Skelos said with a laugh.

Wallyg / Flickr

The next several days will be crucial ones in Albany for negotiations on the state budget. Tensions ran high at a closed-door meeting between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders.

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos abruptly left the final leaders meeting before the weekend early, complaining there was too much emphasis on the needs of the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, at the expense of the rest of the state.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders continue to meet behind closed doors to hash out a budget deal, while outside the governor’s offices dozens of angry protesters were arrested.

Cuomo is calling legislative leaders into his office for twice-a-day private meetings to hash out details of the $145 billion state budget.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse-area advocates of universal pre-kindergarten want lawmakers to include it in the state budget expected to be approved in Albany in the next ten days. Supporters crystallized their argument for pre-K  at a news conference at Delaware School on Syracuse’s west side Thursday.

The call to  include universal pre-K in the state budget came from business leaders, like Centerstate CEO president Rob Simpson

The state Senate and Assembly are scheduled to begin conference committee meetings on Monday, now that both houses have finished with their resolutions laying out their positions. 

Sticking points include funding for charter schools. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Republicans want to restore changes made by  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to three charter schools. The mayor says the schools can no longer  have rent-free space in existing public school buildings.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to double the tax write-off for child care expenses, saying it will benefit working mothers and families.

Right now 35 percent of a child’s daycare – or up to about $1,000 – can be written off on annual tax filings. Gillibrand’s bill would raise that to half of the expenses, or $3,000. She says making child care more affordable will allow more parents to work full time and bring home more money.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at dueling rallies on education at the state Capitol, highlighting the two politicians’ differences over education issues.   

A rally to promote de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-K had been planned for weeks. The mayor spoke to around 1,500 union members, urging them to put pressure on lawmakers to approve in the state budget the mayor’s plan to provide classes for thousands of four-year-olds starting in September.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

The debate over pre-K funding in New York has pit Gov. Andrew Cuomo against New York City area politicians. But one influential Syracuse-area state politician is hoping it doesn’t get in the way of successful budget negotiations, which ramp up this month.

New York state has had an on time budget each year since Cuomo took office four years ago. Sen. John DeFrancisco hopes the pre-K debate doesn’t break that streak.

The state budget deadline is approaching and education issues are taking center stage. Only one day before massive rallies for universal pre-K and charter schools, other advocates say they’ve gathered evidence for potentially another lawsuit for more state aid for schools.

The Alliance for Quality Education has been touring schools around the state to document what they say is the erosion of districts in economically depressed areas.

James F Clay / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to have gained the upper hand and some new allies in his policy skirmish with New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio over how to fund pre-kindergarten, as the fight threatens to turn into an upstate downstate split.

DeBlasio has been seeking permission from Cuomo and the legislature to raise income taxes on the wealthy in New York City in order to pay for access to pre-kindergarten for almost 75,000 four-year-olds there, arguing that it would help ease income inequality.

A new poll finds that New Yorkers statewide favor Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to fund pre-kindergarten over New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio’s proposal.

The Quinnipiac poll finds that the majority of New Yorkers prefer Cuomo’s plan to finance expanded pre-K through state funds, than favor deBlasio’s proposal to tax the wealthy to get the money.

The debate regarding universal pre-kindergarten shows no signs of slowing down at the New York Capitol. The Democratic Mayor of New York City is not backing down from his plan to tax the wealthy to pay for pre-K, while upstate and suburban Republicans in the state Senate say they will block a vote on the tax proposal.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in his State of the City address, stuck to his plan to continue to ask state lawmakers for permission to tax the wealthy to fund universal pre-K. De Blasio says he’s not advocating for a statewide income tax hike.   

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Rep. Richard Hanna and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand played with blocks and Elmer’s glue at a pre-kindergarten classroom in Herkimer Monday before introducing a proposal to fund universal early education on a federal level.

The argument Gillibrand, a Democrat, and Hanna, a Republican, are making is that funding universal pre-kindergarten is an investment, not an expense.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

Mayors from around the state -- including Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner -- testified before the state legislative fiscal committees. In what’s traditionally known as Tin Cup Day, many asked for more money, while others asked for authorization to collect more money from their citizens.

First up was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who came armed with a new report that he says shows how he could enact universal access to pre-kindergarten at a “rapid pace,” in an expansion that he calls one of the largest in the nation’s history.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his state budget Tuesday. The $137.2 billion dollar spending plan includes more money for schools, including a phase in of funding for universal pre-kindergarten programs. It would also freeze property taxes for two years -- if local governments cooperate.

The governor’s budget, which includes a 3.1 percent increase in school aid, a two-year property tax freeze and phased-in business tax cuts, offers something for everyone in a year where Cuomo and all 213 members of the legislature are up for reelection.

knittymarie/flickr

Hundreds of school children, parents and union members held a rally and sit-in at the state Capitol to build momentum for more spending on schools in the state budget.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered something for everyone in his fourth State of the State message, as he faces a re-election year. He outlined programs ranging from property tax cuts to an education bond act, to allowing medical marijuana.

Cuomo began his speech focusing on tax cuts and job creation. He highlighted a plan announced earlier in the week to cut the corporate tax rate, and property taxes , in a scheme that would hinge on local governments freezing spending, and consolidating.

“The highest property tax in the country is in Westchester County,” said Cuomo.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Rep. Dan Maffei has a to-do list for himself and the community when it comes to education. The Syracuse-area Democrat released a six-point plan this week that arises from listening sessions he held across the 24th Congressional District earlier this year.

Maffei says one of the key things that stuck with him during the sessions, was the extent of morale problems among educators across the 24th Congressional District. And he says that's one thing he hopes his proposal can tackle.  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to have a no-drama budget this year, with a low-key presentation and a fiscally austere spending plan -- and no major cuts or new taxes. But, growing opposition from the teachers’ union and local governments may yet result in some sparks flying before the deal is settled in late March.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his third State of the State message Wednesday asked lawmakers to help him “stop the madness,” and pass tough new anti gun legislation. Cuomo also focused on changes to better prepare for future "superstorms" and to approve a new women’s equality act.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s education commission recommends extending the school day and school year, as well as all day pre-kindergarten. But the governor says those ideas could be expensive.

gordasm / Flickr

The state commission that is supposed to come up with answers to the problems in public education in New York is in the midst of a statewide fact-finding tour.  They are getting an earful about how to improve schools, including when they came through central New York Tuesday.

Expanding pre-kindergarten and spreading resources evenly among schools around the state are some of the major suggestions.

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