UPK: Free School for Four-Year-Olds!

Posted on June 26, 2014

Change is coming. For a long time now, I’ve been a firm believer that women will make 70 cents to the male dollar until there is a viable equitable childcare option in this country. Think about the changing shape of today’s average family- you might find a mom and dad, two moms, two dads, just a grandmother, single parent, sole parent and on and on. I often observe the miraculous population of working single moms and fixate on how they manage to make it all come together. If you are building your career, who will take care of your child? And if you are taking care of your child, how will you build your career? That is, if you can’t afford a team to help you. Or imagine a dual parent household where mom may have given birth to her first baby right after completing her medical residency and is finally ready to use years of hard work and expensive education to officially be Dr. Mom. If she has to personally raise her baby due to a lack of affordable proper daycare in the area, is she supposed to just take a 4 year hiatus from the medical practice? If only there was a legit place you could leave Junior to grow and flourish during the day, you could then get a chance at excelling in the workforce the way you deserve to. Cue: Mayor de Blasio.


Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) is partially coming to the rescue. By now you may have heard that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed to spend a little over $1.5 billion over the next five years on free full-day classes for four-year-olds. For starters he promises that in less than two years, New York City will be able to offer full-day pre-K seats to 73,000 children — adding, in effect, a full grade to the nation’s largest school system. This is pretty awesome and a massive leap in the right direction towards closing that income gap which has irked me pretty much since I was in pre-k myself. And now for the implementation part…holy moly cannoli guacamole! Everyone (and their moms) are scrambling to open up a school it seems! About 3,300 of the current 20,000 pre-K spaces are classrooms in CBOs, community-based organizations like the Children’s Aid Society, where we’ve been teaching Bilingual Birdies since 2007. The rest will be in public schools that can spare extra classrooms. The race for qualified teacher is also on. From what I understand there is a particular need for teachers who are fluent in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Haitian-Creole, French, Urdu, Bengali, Russian, Korean, and Arabic. Mayor de Blasio says, “We can change the lives of tens of thousands of children in a matter of months.” It warms my heart that this September will bring new opportunities for families in such a significant way. There is a broad consensus in New York that high-quality, full-day pre-K helps children succeed in school and in life. Research shows that pre-K reduces income inequality and increases social mobility and long-term educational gains for children. (Not to mention, for single moms to further build their careers with peace of mind that their kids are being taken care of – Score!!)

If you’re looking to enroll your clever little 4-year-old in a UPK program apply here. Here is the form in Chinese and in Spanish. And if your darling has already snagged a seat, recommend us to come in as their enrichment consultant and teach our outstanding bilingual music curriculum in Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Hebrew or English (perfect for English Language Learners). Learn more here:

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