April 24, 2017
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Carla, thank you so much for telling your story. Congratulations that Bella is doing so well and that she has such wonderful dreams for her future. And I know you're going to help her achieve those dreams.
This is a story I hear all over the city from parents – what pre-K has meant for them, what it's meant to have their children getting that strong start. It's something that's truly universal in this city. When you talk to parents of every neighborhood, every background, every income level you hear a very, very similar story about what they're experiencing with their children, how their children are growing and strengthening before their eyes, and what it means for their family and what it means for their ability to make ends-meet because as you heard pre-K, now that it's free, has lifted a burden off of so many families that struggle.
Well, as the video indicated, we're only just getting started, and it's time to do more. It's time to go farther. The first part of the mission has succeeded but there's more to do if we're going to reach all our children the way we need to.
And I want to speak to you as a parent because as a parent I understand why this has to be a matter of urgency. Every child needs to be reached. Every child needs the strongest possible start.
We have proven – there's strong start right there.
Strong voice. We have proven through the growth of pre-K that it can be done and it can be done quickly. We have proven that it can reach every child and the evidence is already overwhelming of the impact it's making on children and their families and their schools and the future of this city but it's time to go farther.
It's time to reach children earlier because we know if we reach them even earlier, we will have a much greater impact. We know there's a precious opportunity to reach children at the moment when they can learn and grow the best.
And so we feel urgency. We feel passion in this administration that there is another step we have to take and step we can take, and it's going to be a big step for New York City but it's going to do so much good for so many children.
So, the fact that this is the day we embark on this next mission makes this a very good day for New York City, a joyous day for New York City because so many children and families will benefit over these next years.
I want to thank all those who are gathered here, and a number of them will be in the forefront of creating this new initiative.
I want to thank Deputy Mayor Richard Buery – and you're going to hear from some other colleagues in a moment but I want to thank Deputy Richard Buery, our Budget Director Dean Fuleihan, the Commissioner for the Administration for Children's Services David Hansell, our Deputy Chancellor of DOE Josh Wallack, Superintendent of District 7 Alisa Alvarez, and Superintendent of District 23 Mia Theresa Pate, and also the principal who is hosting us today at PS 1 Jorge Perdomo, and all of the good folks who are here in the audience – advocates, educators, labor leaders, clergy, community leaders, so many people who have been urging us all along to go as far as possible with early childhood education, so many of whom were in the forefront of creating the vision of Pre-K For All and believed in it and helped us prove what it could do for people, and now are going to join us on this next step on this road.
So, let's talk about our children and how they learn and how they grow. The fact is the most important development of a human minds occurs before the age of five. Parents see it and scientific research confirms it, there is one opportunity to get it right. This is the opportunity we've missed through our society for generations. There's one opportunity to get right when the brain is developing and we can get a child to learn so deeply and to be on a path of lifelong learning.
And we know in that precious window which is only really a few years, we know that if we plant the seeds, if we set the wheels in motion, the impact on that child, on that family, and on the whole society is vast. And we know if we lose that opportunity it never comes back. It literally never comes back.
And after those first few years, children continue to learn but not the way they can in the very beginning. I always use that truism. A lot of people have seen children who come from one culture but grow up, say, in another country when they're in their youngest years, how they can learn two languages simultaneously, almost effortlessly which is not true later in life.
It's an example of the way that the human mind has this extraordinary sponge-like capacity in those first years. And we've got to grab that moment. We've got to make the most of that moment. If we don't, we continue to see lost opportunities. We continue to see children who don't go as far as they could. We continue the inequities in our society. It's not because we don't have the research to prove what we need to do, we have to have the will to do it. We have to put the resources front and center if we're going to get it right during that one precious opportunity.
For a long time the question may have been could something like this be done. The question is asked and answered by our experience with pre-K – both the size of the pre-k initiative and the quality of it, the way the whole community of New York City has embraced it, the way that teachers and all educators came forward to make it work. Parents participated deeply. People demanded it and got it and showed that it worked and it mattered to them.
So, now we know we know at the age of four, we're getting it right. We're reaching everyone. The door is wide open. Any child has a place in the pre-K system. Any child, every child will be served. And we know we are reaching those children and having that extraordinary multiplier effect.
We can see it in the biggest school system in the country, in a place where every kind of human being is present, people of every background from all of the Earth in the biggest, most complicated city in the country, we have proven we can reach every child at the age of four.
And now it is time to reach every child at the age of three. We are ready to go farther, and today I am announcing 3-K For All in New York City.
We like the phrase '3-K' because it evokes the first part of our mission that succeeded so well. 3-K For All will take place over the next few years but will begin serving families next school year – September of 2017. And this will grow from there.
Starting this September of 2017, we will build from [inaudible] an unparalleled initiative reaching the most three-year-olds ever, putting every single child on a path to a better life.
We take this momentous step in full accordance with our Equity and Excellence vision because we believe that this school system, for too long, didn't reach enough children, didn't reach them the right way, and we're going to fix that.
Equity and Excellence is a blueprint for all of our grades but now it's time to add another grade. It's time to take this school system which currently teaches children over 14 years and make it 15 years so we can really prepare our children for today's world.
Our vision is that four years from now every three-year-old in New York City will have high-quality, full-day, 3-K education – every single three-year-old starting in September of 2021 will have access to full-day education for free.
And this is going to be a game changer but it's also going to be hard to do. Pre-K was no walk in the park to put together as my colleagues all know. This is going to be even harder and it will take a little more time but this investment will be one of the smartest we've ever made in the history of this city.
And I want to dwell on that for a moment. We are in the midst of the budget process and working closely with our colleagues from the City Council – you will from them in a moment.
In that budget process we always have to make decisions about priorities. We've come to the firm conclusion that this is one of the smartest investments we can make in the future of New York City.
There are so many needs here. There are so many things that we have to choose among but we believe this will have one of the biggest impacts in every sense on children, who of course will be the future of this city, on their families, the ability of their families to make ends meet now but also on the success of those families going forward, on the future of our school system, the future of our workforce. We believe across the board this is one of the best and smartest and most important investments we can make.
So, it will not be easy. This will unquestionably be harder to do that pre-K. There's less space available. We're going to have to find space where it isn't obviously available right now in some district and or we're going to have build new space out.
We're going to have to find more teachers. We had a blitz to put together the teaching core pre-K and it succeeded greatly. We found great teachers from here in New York City and even from around the country. We're going to have to do that to get to 3-K.
And we all know we're facing a complicated fiscal environment going forward but we still made the decision that we had to invest in the future of this city, that we had to think strategically, and think years and years ahead. And this was the right time.
And we also know that if you liked pre-K, if you liked the impact it had, you will like 3-K even more because starting earlier magnifies that impact.
Look, it's really important to understand what this does. I want to give you a few examples.
There's a Nobel Laureate in Economics, James Heckman, and he looked into public investments in early childhood education. He said they deliver a 13 percent return on investment in terms of human capital – an extraordinary rate of return. Meaning the contributions that people make to society over the course of their lifetime, that this investment in early childhood investment, the earlier you go the better and the more impact it makes. And he found that as you apply those resources later, of course, any investment in education is good but the later you start the less return you get, the less impact you make.
And bluntly, we've been doing it backwards as a society for many years. We didn't focus on the youngest years even though that's where we would have had the biggest impact. We didn't set the wheels in motion. But now that we're doing we're seeing that it works and that we have to take it farther.
The clock is ticking when it comes to the development of each young mind, and if we don't grab that precious moment, we're actually making a mistake not just in human terms but in terms of how we spend the taxpayer's dollars because this is where we're going to get the most done.
And other research shows this as well. There's a tremendous program in New Jersey – the Abbott Program – one of the best early childhood programs in the country and it found that kids who did three- and four-year-old early childhood education did better for years to come. They did better in math. They did better in science. They did better in language arts. Even testing as far as fourth grade and fifth grade later in their lives, they were still doing better.
If they had two years – three-year-old and four-year-old years – they did better than kids who had just one. And those results were sustained.
MIT did a study and found for every dollar invested in quality, early education saves taxpayers as much as $13 over the long haul in terms of the cost of public education, in terms of public assistance, in terms of the criminal justice system. This is the practical argument but the human argument is even more powerful. That translates to mean that if you invest in children early they will end up with better lives, more opportunity, they will not fall into some of the traps that too often take our children on the wrong path.
Literally, early childhood education helps children go on the right path, helps them succeed. So, that's where our money should be. And I'll tell you if we don't do it, we don't allow children to reach their potential. We don't allow families to see the success they deserve for their children.
And I mentioned the economic reality too. A typical family paying for child care for a three-year-old pays at least $10,000 a year in this city. Many pay a lot more just for one three-year-old.
It also takes away from the opportunity for so many people to work. If you have to either pay for childcare or provide it yourself or don't have good option, that typically takes away from hours that could be put into work.
So, there's so many benefits here, humanly, for each child, for each family, for our larger society. And so, we're going to make a major investment.
We will propose in the upcoming budget a $36 million investment for next fiscal year and that will ramp up to a $177 million investment by Fiscal Year '21.
Now, this will involve a number of pieces and I'll delineate them very quickly. First, we're going to take our existing program, Early Learn the existing program that reaches three-year-olds, we're going to upgrade it substantially and invest in it. Now, this is currently a means-tested program. I want everyone to be clear. This current program is based on income and goes to folks with lower-incomes, and that will continue over these next few years as we transition to a universal program.
But for three-year-olds going into Early Learn now, they're going to see a program that gets substantially improved, a lot of investment. That's about 11,000 kids right now who benefit.
They will see more teacher training for their teachers, more curriculum development, more support for families. It's going to be a ramp up to make that a higher quality program as we transition into 3-K.
Second, we will begin universal 3-K in two school districts as a beginning and that will be, in those two districts, the same kind of approach we took with pre-K – truly universal. Anyone can apply regardless of income or any other factor.
We'll begin in this district, District 7, here, in the Bronx and District 23 in Brooklyn. And that includes in Brooklyn neighborhoods like East New York, Brownsville, Ocean Hill.
By the fall of 2018 – not this next school year but the one after it as it begins – there will be universal 3-K in those two districts. That will be upwards of 2,000 kids.
We will then continue to build out the pre-K structure with two more districts each year. So, there will be two more for September of '18, two more after that for September '19, two more after that for September of '20, and then we will take the big jump to a fully universal system by September of 2021 – four years from this September.
Now, let me say at the outset, anyone who wants to apply to the existing Early Learn program or wants to apply for the new seats that will be available in District 7 here in the Bronx and District 23 in Brooklyn. That will be the same kind of application process we went through for pre-K.
Anyone can call 3-1-1 or go to nyc.gov/3K, and you will talk to an actual human being. You will talk to an enrollment specialist who will help you determine how to go about applying and what works for you.
And again, there will be two tracks initially that continuing Early Learn program that is means-tested, and then the universal programs beginning in Districts 7 and 23.
It'll take us two years to build out 7 and 23 but there will be available seats for this September, even more the following. But anyone who wants to get information just has to go online and or call 3-1-1.
We'll continue that growth but to get to the ultimate goal we will need help. And that was true with pre-K as well. Pre-K worked because the City of New York created a vision, created tremendous public support for that vision, took that public support to Albany, got funding.
We're going to repeat that vision and we will take it to Albany and we'll take it to Washington.
And as difficult and complicated as both places are, the world still works when it comes to something that the public demands, and we think the demand for 3-K is going to be intense. We think parents are going to make very clear that they need this. We think the momentum will grow.
And we believe that based on the success in Albany last time, we will be able to put together a coalition over the next few years to win funding. And the federal situation – always interesting – well, I remind you we're talking about September of 2021, that's a long way from now, and a lot can happen along the way. But I will also say that one of the areas that has seen more and more bipartisan interest has been early childhood education.
I always talk about pre-K. We're proud of what we've done here, and we're proud of what's been done in New Jersey and in Washington D.C. but we're also proud of what Georgia is doing. We're also proud of what Oklahoma is doing. The whole movement of folks who believe in early childhood education – we've been struck by the fact that it is happening just as energetically in blue states as in red states. And there's a growing consciousness including in the Congress of why this is a smart and necessary investment.
So, we will build out over years, and we will build a coalition to put together whatever State and federal resources we need to bring this to full fruition.
I assure you it will take very hard work on all these fronts I mentioned. This, again, will be harder than pre-K but we also have the example of pre-K to fuel this effort, to prove what can be done on a big scale and to prove what an impact it makes.
And we'll say from the beginning and we'll show, the City of New York will be putting a lot of skin in the game. We already have about $200 million in the Early Learn program. As I said, we will be ramping up to another $177 million in City investment by Fiscal '21.
The remaining State and federal aid we will need – we'll be able to show that we have already built something powerful and invested deeply when we go looking for that additional support.
So, I'll conclude by saying this – anytime we look at a situation including a time like now in history where there's certainly a lot of uncertainty, it's easy to say in a time of uncertainty, stand back, be cautious, be timid. That's not our way. It's not our way as New Yorkers and it's not the way of this administration or I might add this City Council.
We believe the time is now. We believe we have a chance to reach children right now and start changing their lives and we believe we can create the kind of momentum that will never be turned back.
Once the parents of this city experience pre-K they will demand more and more and more until the day that it becomes truly universal. And it will mean so much for our future.
It's a bold move but a necessary one because it will literally frame the future of this great city.
A few words in Spanish –
[Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks in Spanish]
With that, it's my honor to bring forward someone who understands this, I would say, as well as anyone on this Earth. And she is now – Carmen, what year is it now? 51 years? 51 years in education?
Chancellor Carmen Farina, Department of Education: [Inaudible]
Mayor: Getting better all the time. Our Schools Chancellor, Carmen Farina.
Chancellor Farina: Thank you. This is truly a marvel. Let me be – putting it in very practical terms.
First of all, it's starting in two districts that have made tremendous strides but for whom this is going to be a game changer. It's also part of the Mayor's initiative that commissioners and chancellors talk to each other.
And I can't say that I have a better partner than the commissioner of ACS. He's been wonderful. Our conversations have been rich. And he specifically wanted to make sure that we were the right people to entrust his three-year-olds to.
And I want to say that in very practical terms, this is what I see happening. A three-year-old is as sponge. They pick up everything. So, why not have them in the best place where the stuff that they're picking up is the right stuff.
Socially, they will learn how to play with others. They will learn how to talk to each other. They will learn to do what the famous poems says, "Everything I learned, I learned in kindergarten."
Why wait until kindergarten? Let's do it in pre-pre-K.
And the ability to share, cooperate, collaborate, critical think, analyze are all the skills that you need for the future jobs. Very few jobs 10, 15 years from now are going to be how well do you memorize, how well do you recite information. It's how do you learn to think.
So, why not have kids learning to think as young as three and even younger. Although, I think we have enough on our plate right now.
But the reality is that the whole idea of socialization which is really something that needs to be done in pre-k, this is part of the program.
The other thing I think is very important is emotional. This is an absolutely wonderful way for us also to figure out who are the kids that already may have disabilities or problems or speech problems. Speech problems in particular – the sooner you get at them, the sooner you deal with them, the more likely that they're going to be dealt with appropriately.
And now as a grandmother of a child who has some issues, we learned at three years old and immediately got on it. But that allows us now as educators to be able to do something much quicker and much more appropriately.
And I think in particular will also help us in terms of going towards the future, in terms of special needs kids. Are they really special needs or is it that some of these students did not get diagnosed early enough with the interventions they needed. So, that's another very practical thing.
I think the other thing is also that it allows us to start giving parents support much sooner. And I don't care where you live in the City of New York, if you have one child, if you have three children or ten children, you need support.
You need people to talk to. The DOE just started a moms program for people in the building, and I was their first guest speaker. And one of the things I keep saying to them – you can't do it by yourself, you need to vent to other people, you need to talk about what are the things that are normal for certain ages. And three-year-olds are known for not being so normal across the board.
So, how do you have parenting courses early on for three-year-olds in our schools that will allow people to have these conversations, have them deeply, and be supported?
The other thing I think is also about – imagine, because some of these programs will be in the school where these children have their older brothers and sisters. Imagine a parent who doesn't have to make a decision in the morning whether I go here, here, or here. And you have the ability to leave all your children off in the same school, and have a commitment to that school from the very beginning.
So, this is also about parents who can see the school as part of their community, go out and work as actually the parent said today, and then be able to do something deeper knowing that all their children are in the same place at the same time.
I cannot say enough about what I think this is going to do ultimately. It also – and this is part of the discussion we had with the commissioner – allows us the opportunity to teach teachers in a consistent way. If you go to pre-Ks in the city of New York, you will see something there that you might not have seen years ago. There's interactive learning. Josh, knows. I come running back when I see something that's a little off-kilter. I hear talking. I hear noise. I hear investigations.
Now, it gives us an opportunity to have training for the three-year-old teachers right alongside the four-year-old teachers. So we'll see a continuum that is more seamless and that will mean that the more you're consistent in what you're doing, the more likely it sticks with the kids. And I think that is a really, really important part of what we're doing.
And since we've really ramped up our professional development particularly for early childhood, I think that is really an important part of what we expect to do here.
I think, finally, the most important thing out of all this, is it allows us to really make clear what I've always felt in all my time in education that the people who are most vulnerable are anywhere from age of six – I mean the age of zero to the age of reason which is seven.
And if we don't invest, we're not investing in ourselves as either a city or a community or just civilization. And to talk about high school graduations which is important but not to talk about early childhood, the social, emotional, and academic learnings of those children, is to miss the boat all together.
We don't play catch up in high school. We need a consistency across the zero to 16 and beyond to ensure that our kids are the citizens of tomorrow that we want.
Thank you very much.
Mayor: Well done. Two important points, did he say stabilized?
Mayor: He said stabilized. That reminds me of my favorite – Carmen was my witness – the time we were visiting the pre-k classroom and the kid said metamorphosis; one of the great moments in pre-k history – just spontaneously said metamorphosis. It was a great day. Also for the record, Julissa's husband – that was not a figure of speech – her husband is a rocket scientist. That is an actual profession and this is his profession.
Alright, we are going to now take questions about this proposal and then we'll talk about other topics as well.
Question: Mr. Mayor is the City going to hire new teachers – what are the centers or schools are going to be given 3-K and also, [Speaks in Spanish].
Mayor: Yes, that's part of it.
So the Chancellor will speak to that. To the second question, and it was also – I shall explain where our Single Shepherd program is already active in these two districts, but she'll speak to that.
On the first question of how many teachers; so, this group here is going to be responsible for the buildout. This is the same dream team that put together pre-k. Again, now we're sending them on a bigger and harder mission, but I have no doubt they will succeed. I think we talked about it earlier, 4,500 teachers. So we predict the need will be for about 4,500 new teachers. And again, with pre-k we made it a passionate thing. We made it a call to arms to teachers all over New York City and all over the country to come be a part of creating the right approach to early childhood education in the biggest city in the country. And in the vein of 'if you build it they will come', we got an extraordinary response from teachers and that is part of why pre-k is working so well. Very, very dynamic teachers wanted to be a part of it and we think that is going to happen again with 3-K. To the choice of districts – Carmen you want to speak to that in Espanol? You can do both English and Espanol.
Chancellor Farina: Okay, I'll start with English. We carefully selected these two districts because they already have some supports within the districts. They are Single Shepherd although we are not shifting them off the six to twelve models, but because they already have training – social worker training. Training that we feel will be very compatible with the three-year-old training. We thought that was really a good way to go. We also know that in those two districts there is high need in terms of a lot of those parents – there are no centers in many of these neighborhoods. There are no infrastructures, so having the school as the infrastructure makes sense.
One of the things that we're considering as well in pre-k where there is space we would consider a multi-age three to four-year-olds. It is one of the ages that actually make sense doing together. I know I put my children, way back when, in three, four-year-old classes. The four-year-olds are already a little ahead verbally and they can share what they know with the three-year-olds. So we selected those two districts because of need, because they have outstanding superintendents. They also have space, which we think is really a good way to start with what we're doing. So we know that there is also a commitment to early childhood and parents in those two particular districts have asked over and over again for more support in this area.
[Chancellor Farina speaks in Spanish]
So we think for all those reasons – I do my Spanglish kind of combination.
That is a really good start. We also want to make sure and we have done this – we did this with pre-k as well, that we create model sites, supervised carefully, and intervened immediately so as we expand these programs we know what is working and what is not working. So I think starting small and growing out just makes a lot of sense.
Question: Mayor, you said this year it's going to be $36 million from the budget. [Inaudible] How much of this is going to have to be money coming from Albany? Also in line of budget scenarios you see coming from D.C. [inaudible].
Mayor: Let me explain the thinking. We are closely monitoring the situation in Washington D.C. And I will say upfront about that, no one knows where that is going. You know, I think you could certainly surmise from the first 100 days that a lot of the changes – the radical changes that might have been projected so far are not happening. But lord knows we're not going to prejudge this situation. I have said very consistently, we're going to have to fight to make sure the federal budget is fair. We do not belittle the challenges here, but to the point of why we are sequencing this way. So again, we're spending now about $200 million on the existing early learning problem. We will spend by Fiscal '21 an additional $177 million to build out to eight full districts. The notion here is simple, we know we can achieve that goal with our own resources. So, of course, if we can achieve something we should start doing it. We believe it will be the evidence just like pre-k was. We believe as it builds it will provide real living evidence that this is the right approach. It will take away a lot of the doubts or opposition because people will be able to see with their own eyes it is working. Obviously it will show we have skin in the game and that is important in Albany and in Washington – to see that localities are investing in themselves. We're doing that upfront. We know unlike pre-k this would take several years to achieve anyway because of the space issues and other issues. So, we think this is a good way to create momentum and reach a lot of kids in the near term and create momentum. Now, the Washington picture – I don't belittle, Dave, how complicated it is. I also would remind you again, September 2021, there will be a midterm congressional election between now and then. There will be a full presidential election and another congressional election. Between now and then there will be a full presidential election and another Congressional election between now and then. We don't know what we're going to be dealing with – could be similar, could be very different. We're going to hold out hope that under any scenario – let's say at least we think maybe there is nowhere to go but up, but also again there have been a few areas where we have seen some bipartisan consensus and early childhood education is increasingly one of them.
So, all those reasons we're not counting out the federal piece of the equation. The State piece of the equation – we have a body of evidence that there really was possible to put together a coalition around pre-k. The Assembly had pushed for early childhood education for decades. The IDC, very enthusiastically, got involved fighting for pre-k. The Senate Republicans ultimately were willing to come on board and the Governor as well. So we have seen with our own eyes that that coalition we put together we have time to create it and prove that it could work. So that is why we think it is a real ramp up. That last piece, to be clear, to go from eight full districts in the existing early learn program we have to ramp it up to 32 districts full strength universal, that will take approximately another $700 million. So that's what we're going to need to find between state and federal resources by the fall of 2021, by four years from now.
Let's go way back, way back.
Question: [Inaudible] teachers and [inaudible] community-based organizations involved and also will the administration – the people who administer early learning at ACS capable of the administration of this? And will there still be [inaudible]?
Mayor: Rich? Josh? Who wants to take this one?
Deputy Mayor Buery: Good morning. One of the questions was about CBOs, and similar to pre-K, we expect that the system will include both public schools and community-based organizations. We expect about half and half, but it'll depend as we grow. I think you also asked about the administration from ACS to the Department of Education. So, part of what we're doing here is, the incredible team that Chancellor Farina and Deputy Chancellor Wallack built at the Department of Education, is relying on some of that capacity, both in terms of outreach and program supports and using that to drive further quality in the pre-K space.
In terms of the vouchers, part of our overall plan is to continue to engage in conversation between the Department of Education, ACS, and the other agencies that are involved to think about the role that vouchers play. And certainly, we're going to be addressing that as part of our ramp-up over the next several years.
Mayor: That means child care vouchers to be clear. Not the notorious school vouchers. And let me say further, just to clarify, we will be continuing what we did with pre-K, community-based organizations, charter schools, religious schools. All are welcome, but with a single set of ground rules, with a contract everyone has to sign, with one curriculum, with one approach to training, but we will welcome any and all community partners.
Question: A couple of funding questions. One, in agreement – with the City Council agreeing to this added funding, were there any tradeoffs in terms of finding savings elsewhere?
Mayor: Okay. I'll start with that, and then you can do the second. When we have these conversations, we work – you know – this is talking about a three-dimensional chess. There's a lot of things going on in the budget process for a budget of this magnitude. The specific answer was no. It was not based on specific trade-offs. The Council has been very clear over these last years, they want to see us protect reserves, and they want to see us look for any savings we can achieve. We'll be talking about that a lot later in the week; about how we have worked together on that mandate, and we have some substantial pieces there. But, no, this was supported unto itself.
What's the second?
Question: State funding – you said on pre-k in the past that the Campaign for One New York and the momentum around that and all the work there was basically essential to getting the funding for pre-K from the State. So without that mechanism, how would you put a coalition together to get funding this time?
Mayor: Look, it's pertinent to the moment we're in nationally right now in that we felt in the beginning – I mean, obviously I'm referring to the "first 100 days," we felt in the beginning, having put forward this pretty difficult vision, meaning a hard-to-achieve vision, of full-day pre-K for every child on a two-year timeline, that we needed to do everything and anything to get the support to make it happen so we could create the kind of momentum for early childhood education and for the vision that later became Equity and Excellence. We did that. We succeeded. Again, I've said many times, I believe it was the right thing to do.
There'll be no such mechanism in the future, and I don't think bluntly it will be needed in the future. Because the last time around it was theory, and we all knew it was theory. In the church, there is the phrase "this far by faith." We, many times in those long discussions of how to achieve pre-k, it was a matter of faith because no one had ever done it on the scale we did it here in New York City, particularly on that kind of timeframe.
But this time we are working from a model that worked. Even a rocket scientist would say we have evidence and a model that has worked on the ground and can be replicated very, very consistently. So, I don't think we're going to need the same kind of mechanism as from the past.
Question: Could you talk to us about the numbers? How many slots will the $177 million that the City's putting in cover [inaudible]? And when you get to the $700 million, how many slots globally do you hope to offer to three-year-olds? And in order to get that $700 million, would you support a tax in Albany or do you think that the State might just, seeing your success in the past, give you the money?
Mayor: I'll have Deputy Chancellor Wallack speak to the fine-tuning of each stage in the numbers. I can say broadly, when it gets to full strength, we expect it to be not quite as big as pre-k, because we think there will be some parents who are not yet ready to have their kids go to school at three years old, but we think it'll be close to the numbers of pre-k.
Mayor: Say it again.
Mayor: He'll speak to the numbers. I'm just giving you the broad rule of thumb. We think it will mirror pre-k, somewhat smaller. We also think, as we have seen with pre-k, the more people experience it. the more people start to say, 'wait a minute, that does make sense for my child." And bluntly in a society where people are working longer and longer hours and are stressed in so many ways, it's going to be something a lot of parents think is practically really important for their lives.
So, before Josh comes over, look, all options are on the table. When we talk about the federal picture first, I remind you, two full elections between now and full implementation, so a lot of interesting things could happen there.
On the state front, we think the energy is obvious to our leaders in Albany. They've seen what happened with pre-k. I've talked to plenty of legislators who talk about the conversations they have with parents in their district. They know how important it is, how popular it is. Be a very different and, I think, easier conversation this time. It's still real money. We have to find it. We're open to any option. If folks in Albany say, "We're ready to fund this," that's a great option. If they want to talk about a taxation scheme like we proposed last time, we're open to that. But we're going to leave that discussion in Albany finding out what the legislators think makes sense as a way to get it done.
Question: How much do you need from the State and how much are you [inaudible]?
Mayor: As I said, the 700, so I'll do it again. Two hundred million we're already spending on Early Learn, $177 million more we would commit by the ramp-up for the school year beginning. So that would be by the school beginning September '20 and, therefore, fiscal '21, we will be at that $177 million more above current spending. So pushing on towards combined about $400 million. We will go to State and federal government for 700 million more on top of that.
Josh, on the different numbers and how it builds out by students?
Wallack: Thanks. It's terrific to be with you all this morning as we come together to announce this big initiative and also create a real seamless system for all children birth to five in New York City.
The way it would work is in the first two districts – and I just want to caveat say, the goal here is to provide a seat for the family of every three-year-old that wants one, so this number may turn out to be lower or higher – but we estimate for the first two districts, at full strength we'll be serving between 1,800 and 2,000 students.
When we get to the eight districts, the eight that the City will support on its own, we estimate, depending on which districts we choose to go into and the demand we see – we'll learn a lot as we go – we'll be serving about 20,000 three-year-olds. At full strength, we're estimating that the full program will be about 62,000 three-year-olds. That's based on our calculation based on the demand for pre-K. Thanks.
Mayor: Way back. No, wait. You had one. Folks who haven't had first, and we'll come back around. Go ahead.
Question: Mayor, some people are critical of universal pre-k that it's just babysitting. Do you have any – can you lay down some –
Mayor: Bring it to me.
Question: – some of the evidence.
Mayor: Bring them to me.
Question: Can you provide a little bit of what the value add here is beyond having [inaudible]?
Mayor: Who wants it?
Chancellor Farina: I ask anyone who says that, "Have you been in a pre-K lately?" I will tell you that I go – every single school I go to, I always ask to go to the pre-k. You will see pre-k students beginning writing. You will also see that teachers are beginning to look at their writing and say, "Oh. I was just in a pre-k last Thursday," and I said to the principal, "Do you notice that the writing of these two children may require you having someone look at them, because I think they may be having difficulties?" So we're doing early intervention.
We also have pre-k where we're monitoring attendance, and you're seeing attendance like 95%, which means those parents know they've put those kids in a safe place, and they can go out and get a job or do whatever it is they need to do. I also go to pre-ks and see kids doing an experiment. Right now, one of the science experiments are, "Do things float or sink?" and you'll have two four-year-olds discussing, What are the objects that will float, and which are the ones that will sink. That's science. You have students reading – I was in a pre- a few weeks ago, and they were reading Eric Carle, and one of the students said, "He must really like science, because a lot of his books are about science." So you're having them comparing and contrasting, which is a common core skill that is being introduced in second and third grade.
So, anyone who has any criticism about this pre-k babysitting, part of it is because what teachers are doing is nurturing those kids so they'll love learning, so they'll love coming to school, and they'll love the fact the teachers are working with them to make them smarter. But this, to me, is a no-brainer, and it means someone hasn't been in a classroom to see what's actually happening.
Mayor: Do you want to add?
Mayor: Please. Go ahead. Okay.
Question: Mayor, just a follow up on that funding.
Question: We've talked a lot about the federal budget, and you haven't factored in any potential cuts, but you're sort of still counting on getting money. I mean, do you think that those are contradictory things? Like, we're not factoring in for –
Mayor: As Melissa said, and I'll let her speak to it, too, if you're living in today only, this day in 2017, you might feel that. If you say, "Our job is to create a vision, give it strength and momentum and build a coalition to achieve it," and there's two ways to win. You can get it all done in Albany. You can get it done in Washington. You can combine them. There's different ways to do it. No, I'm not going to be held back because of a current reality. I'm not sure how much that current reality is going to mean ultimately.
Do you want to speak to it?
Speaker Mark-Viverito: No, just to reiterate what was said. I mean, the City is making a commitment to eight districts. To get universal, we need the support of the State and the feds, and we're going to have to work and build coalitions to make sure that that message is sent. But the City is making a commitment to those eight districts, that's an investment in the future of the City as well. So, I appreciate and I'm grateful that that is being proposed, and we will definitely stand behind it.
Question: I was wondering if you could just talk a little bit more about what's happening in the very first year of the programs. You have an existing early life program. Are you expanding classrooms at all there? And when you talk about upgrades, I know you mentioned teacher training. What's the extra $36 million paying for?
Wallack: There's two parts to what we're doing in year one. The first is we're partnering with the Administration for Children's Services, and we're essentially putting in place the kinds of support that we do for Pre-K For All into three-year-old classrooms that are run by Early Learn. So what does that mean?
It means that we have a set of incredibly talented experienced teachers who are instructional coaches who go into classrooms to help them improve practice; a set of social workers that help teachers work with children and create safe and welcoming environments, and help them engage with families; and we have a set of program assessment specialists that help programs understand where they are in accomplishing the goals of pre-k and getting better at what they do. So those same supports will be in place for three's classrooms in Early Learn, and we'll work together.
Chancellor Farina: [Inaudible]
Wallack: Yes. And, as the Chancellor reminded me, in both the districts where we start, we'll also have an additional support in the Superintendent's Office, an early childhood director who will help to oversee the districts' 3-K and Pre-K efforts. In year one, we'll also add – years one and two – we'll add additional classrooms both in district schools and in what we call New York City Early Education Centers, which are our community-based partners that often have years of experience in providing high-quality early childhood education and care.
So we'll be partnering with them to bring on additional seats in those two districts, and we'll be adding those supports that I described to all the three's classrooms citywide. That's what the first – that's what the first tranche of funding does.
Question: In the first year, will there be more classes added?
Wallack: There will be more classes. We are going to get started today in trying to identify new classrooms, new teachers, and beginning to prepare great content for the first day of school this fall.
Mayor: We're going to ask all our friends and partners to get started today with us. Get ready. Fasten your seatbelts.
Question: I have three questions. The first one, the eight districts – how are you choosing where the six that haven't already been chosen are? The second one is a practical one. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old that's going to a program called [inaudible]. You have to be potty-trained by then. Is that part of this program? And, thirdly, the announcement had your wife [inaudible] here as well, and [inaudible] earlier, and she's not here. I was wondering why that is?
Mayor: It's a schedule change. She's got her own portfolio of things, and she decided that she needed to focus on some of the other pieces.
On the first point. Let's see – I'm not the expert on the potty-training protocol. We'll have them speak to that.
The first one was on the eight districts. The eight districts, the honest answer is we're going to make a decision in the coming months about the next two very much based on logistical reality. To get the first two up and running, as we said, will take two jumps. The space considerations, in particular, are going to loom very large here.
So we're going to look at all the districts in the City; look at – obviously where there's need but also where we think we can put it together logistically on this kind of timeline. We'll look at a lot of things, but where can we be convinced that we could get it done on this timeline? There's some districts that you could tell immediately it would be very tough because we're going to need early childhood education centers built. Those, obviously, will wait a little longer so we can get the physical infrastructure in place.
Who wants to talk about this controversial and important topic?
Wallack: The answer to the question is it really depends on where the child is developmentally, but there are lots of districts that, as the Chancellor alluded to, teach three-year-olds and four-year-olds together. Three-year-olds need a little bit more time typically for self-care routines, as they're called, including going to the bathroom and eating, and also processing information and working with one another. So teachers will have to make that adjustment, but they'll be trained to do so, and we'll have the facilities to handle children at various stages on the skill that you mentioned. Yes?
Question: Do they have to be out of diapers to participate in this?
Wallack: No, they do not. We can handle either way. Thanks.
Mayor: Lindsey? Oh, I'm sorry. I thought it was Lindsey. It's Kate. I thought I saw Lindsey. I saw Lindsey somewhere in here. Kate?
Question: The evidence about the impact of early childhood programs is really for low-income children. I'm wondering – a couple of questions. First, what's your justification for expanding this program to all three-year-olds rather than specifically targeting it by income and maybe expanding it to younger ages and really focusing on the quality and intents of the program for low-income children, who are the ones who have been jumped back a bit?
Secondly, the quality and the time of pre-k for four-year-olds, is uneven? Do you think that you're going to be able to continue putting the necessary effort into that and making the quality more uniform at a higher level while we're also working so hard to get this new program in?
Mayor: I'm going to contest the premise of the question, and my panel of experts will speak to it. I would not say uneven is at all an accurate description of what's happening with our current pre-k. It is a young program and a program that will continue to improve because we're putting a huge amount of energy into it. That will never change. But I don't agree it's uneven, and I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time, continue to make pre-k as good as it can be while building out this new piece. And I'll let my colleagues speak to that.
On the first question, I believe fundamentally in the universal model. I believe it's good for everyone. I believe it creates a fairness and equality in our society. I believe it creates something that helps every kind of family educationally and economically. I think it creates a communal reality that's fantastic for this city where everyone has something they can believe in and depend on. I think it obviously creates maximum energy to get something like this done and supported here in the City, in the State, and the federal level if it's something that everyone benefits from.
I also am a believer, from my own experiences as a public school student myself and from seeing my kids, I believe that the mix of different people lifts all boats. I believe that we want to see our children learn around every kind of child. That's good for them socially. It's good for them in terms of building a more unified society. Kids who come in with some disadvantages benefit from having kids around them who are more advantaged and have had more opportunity. It's good for everyone.
Who wants to speak to the current status of –
Chancellor Farina: I want to be clear. Public education means just that. It doesn't mean that economically you're entitled to this or overly economically you're entitled to – it means everyone's entitled to the same thing. To me, to have parents use public education, particularly grades three and four, when they don't have to, the commitment they will make –
Mayor: Ages three and four.
Chancellor: – ages three and four, thank you. They will be committed to that school in other ways that their financial ability helps in different ways. I was principal of a school where parents chose to use my school who could have gone elsewhere. But what they added to the school once they were there helped all students in that building.
And this should not be the city, "Well, if you're on the low poverty level, you get this, but if you have this, you don't get this." Equity and Excellence means just that. Equity and Excellence for everyone. And that also means they're all exposed to the same learning and the same strategies. That means that by the time they get to first and second grade, there will be an expectation in all the schools that all the students will have learned X, Y and Z.
The curriculum that we developed for pre-k is a universal curriculum, whether it's in a religious school or private. Anyone who has a pre-k center follows the curriculum that we set up, has the PD that we set up, and I expect that to be a really strong factor in the three-year-olds. And, again, I do take exception to the fact that pre-k has not been successful. I think it has been extremely successful, and I will take press with me to visit a pre-k of your choice any time you want. Thank you.
Deputy Mayor Buery: I can't improve anything the Chancellor said, but I just want to make a couple of quick points. One is just again to contest the premise. The research on pre-k show that the benefits of pre-k is to all children. Certainly there is evidence that shows that low-income children benefit more, that is not the same thing, that wealthier children or middle class children don't benefit. We can share some of that research with you.
The second point just around quality is one of the big investments we've made in the Pre-K For All program, and it will continue to 3-K, is a large investment in quality improvement and evaluation. The preliminary evaluations we've seen around quality have shown that we are administering a very strong – a very high-quality program. And our quality scores, as measured by some of the tools we use, are similar to the quality scores at other high-quality programs like in Boston experienced at a similar stage in their development.
So actually, although, of course, we need to continue to improve as we get older, we should be incredibly proud about the quality happening in New York City pre-k – is truly xtraordinary, particularly given the scope and quality of what we've built.
The third point I just want to – I just want to reiterate what the Chancellor said in another way, we should also remember that the benefits to pre-K are not only the cognitive and social developmental benefits to the four-year-olds and now the three-year-olds, but also the economic benefits to their families. And certainly, in New York, we know that for middle class families, for working class families, the money you save by having a quality, safe place for your child to be is an extraordinary benefit, and that's true at just about every income.
So I just would challenge the premise, and you absolutely should go visit a program with Chancellor Farina, in part because it's great to see the Chancellor with the three- or four-year-olds, but you would see some amazing things happening in our school system.
Chancellor Farina: And I just want to say one thing.
Mayor: Wait. Come to the microphone.
Chancellor Farina: Now, having raised two children and helping raise three grandchildren, parenting skills are necessary for all parents. I don't care where you live in the city. There is a pressure put on parents today about being a perfect parent, doing everything perfectly, and it's a false premise. So having parenting classes where parents can come and whine and complain and ask advice from each other, to me, is crucial, whether you're a parent on the Upper East Side, Park Slope, or in the Bronx. I think that a lot of the benefits of early childhood are across the board and have absolutely nothing to do with financial resources.
Wallack: I just want to make one more point on the quality piece, and the kinds of systems that we've built as a team to make sure that any door a family walks into for pre-K and now for 3-K is an excellent program. As I mentioned before, we have an extraordinary team of educators and social workers and others that go into programs week after week and month after month to help them improve. And we actually are able to measure, as Deputy Mayor Buery put it, our progress against other districts, and we've found that we are on par with some of the finest pre-K programs, the ones that have achieved the highest outcomes across the country, even at a very early stage of implementation.
But we've gone farther than that, and we use that information in order to target our support. Our coaches and our social workers visit programs to help them with their particular areas of growth and help them get stronger and stronger. And then every year we publish that information in a really easily digestible format for families so they can see the particular strengths of their program and where they're trying to grow. That is creating incredible momentum and incredible quality in our program throughout. Thanks.
Question: If the success of this program is going to rely so heavily on community-based organizations, do you feel that you have sufficient space at the CBOs that this is going to partners with now for UPK to add new spots for the three-year-olds or do we have to partner with new CBOs?
Mayor: I think it's a mixed bag. I think that there are places – so, let me just quickly paint a picture of New York City. There are districts where we have substantial space in public school buildings. There are districts also where we have CBOs, as you indicate, that are doing this work and have access to additional space and are doing the work well. That, again, can include also religious schools and charter schools.
There are other places where there's a space shortage right now where we struggle to get pre-K to its maximum. In some places we're still trying to finish out that effort in terms of having the space exactly where we want it. In those places, we'll double down on looking for any opportunity to create new space.
By the way, that could come through existing development that's being planned. You have seen more and more schools being included in residential development. You can also include just a pre-K center or an early childhood education center in residential development. So that's going to be an option some places.
But in other places we're going to have to keep building stand-alone early childhood education centers that could be three-year-olds, four-year-olds, both. That's part of why we're being a little more careful about the timeline here, because we grabbed so much of the space the first go-round in some districts. So it will be very different. Thirty-two school districts. Every single one of them different. Some, and those will be, to David's point earlier, those will be the go-tos where there's really readily available space options and good quality opportunities. Those will be the ones that we'll first build out. Some others, we are going to need all the way to September '20, '21 to get the space in place, and that's going to be a race to get it done. But we're confident we can make the pieces come together over the time we have.
Who has not gone?
Question: I think there's a lot of anecdotal information or stories about why pre-K is considered to be a success thus far. Can you point to anything else that you think really points to the –
Mayor: I feel like everything you just said was about actual studies, but let's have them reiterate.
Question: Also, just to push-back on the unevenness. We do know, based on the class [inaudible] that there are sites that struggle. And I know the DOE provides specific supports to those sites, but do you not acknowledge that there are –
Mayor: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I want to challenge – I'm challenging your challenge. And then Josh will – Josh, come up. You can be on deck here. Josh and the Chancellor, Deputy Mayor, all were referring to the overall situation of a program that is serving almost 70,000 kids in hundreds and hundreds of locations around the city. We think that the facts are abundantly clear about the overall performance of the program.
So, uneven – if you want to say, if you had a handful of places that weren't working well and the vast majority were working well, you want to call that uneven, I think that's a misuse of the phrase uneven. I think we have a clear majority dynamic here of what's going on in our program. In any program of this size, there's going to be some places that have to do better. Just like our school system. There's going to be some schools that have to do better.
I think this initiative for pre-K is a success, period. And then there are certainly programs we have more work to do on. I think that's the best way to explain it. But go ahead on the facts more than anecdotes.
Wallack: Yes. Again, I think, you mentioned a couple of national ways of looking at some parts of program quality, and that's what I really want to emphasize here. Because I think what the Mayor and Chancellor and Deputy Mayor asked us to do was figure out a way to look at programs quality along many different dimensions. I think, to look too narrowly at one set of scores that we're proud of those national scores you mentioned, because they are on par with where the finest pre-K programs in the country were at this stage, we can take a broader view.
We look at – consistent with the framework for great schools. The vision that the Chancellor has laid out for school quality. We look not only at the instruction in the classroom and whether they're meaningful interactions between the parent and teacher. We look at whether the teachers are working together to improve their practice. We're looking at whether they're creating a supportive and warm environment. We're looking at the ways that the leader interacts with the teachers and the staff of a program. And we're looking at the ways they interact with families and do family engagement and community building. So those things are all measured.
We measure all of them through the class and ACARAs, which are nationally normed assessments that allow you to look at interactions within classrooms, but also by serving parents and teachers in valid ways that allow us to get a sense. Now, I would say, certainly there are programs that we want to support more, and we offer that support.
Really, what happens most, as the Chancellor sort of referred to me on the way over, is that programs have different strengths and different things that they're working on. We try to support them on the ones they need help on and encourage them on the ones they're strong on and encourage them to collaborate with one another on those strengths.
But overall, we are, again, just to say, the national scores for quality, we are on par with the finest pre-K programs where they were at this stage of implementation. On these other measures, we're doing very well, and we have the supports in place to help get better and better every year. That's the most important thing, in pre-K, in 3-K and in K-12.
Question: Mr. Mayor, have you spoken to anyone in Albany about whether they're open to funding this, helping the City out based on what you said, it's [inaudible] or to the Assembly? Have you reached out to the Trump administration?
Mayor: I have not reached out to the Trump administration. That day will come on this topic. We've done a round of outreach and are setting up meetings to go into detail with each of the key players in Albany, and that will, obviously, be timely because we're going to be talking to people about the legislative session as well. This is not, again, something we expect action on during the legislative session but begin the conversation for next year.
The one person that I reached and had a substantial conversation with was the IDC leader, Jeff Klein. I won't speak for him, but he was a central figure in achieving pre-K and I think is well-disposed to this idea, but I'll let him speak for himself.
Question: [Inaudible] directly?
Mayor: Again, I will be speaking to the governor and his team as this plays out.
Question: Mr. Mayor, just wanted to get clarity on the question of a potential tax to fund this in Albany. Is that something that you're going to be specifically advocating, and if so, do you have a type of tax in mind?
Mayor: Not specifically advocating. I said it before, but I'll say it again, and I'll be interested in how it's covered. All options are on the table, meaning we're going to go to the leaders in Albany, starting with where it all begins, which is the legislature. We're going to say, "Here's the vision we have. We believe we have an extraordinary body of evidence that proves that this would have a seismic impact on this city" – city, I remind you, is 43 percent of the state's population – "We believe this is one of the best investments we can make in the future of our schools and our city, and we have skin in the game. We're asking for support to get this done." That, again, would be referencing the next year's budget, which will be discussed starting in January.
We're going to present that equation and talk to the various leaders about what makes sense. All options should be on the table. If the legislative leaders say, "We think the right way to do that is to fund it outright," as is what happened with pre-K, that's great. If they prefer another model, we'll be open to anything. We had – I'm very proud of it – We had a good model to fund pre-K that I presented to Albany. They didn't want to do it. They did something else that worked for us. That's fine. We'll let them see what we're trying to achieve, and we'll let the legislative leaders tell us what is the most sensible way to proceed, and we'll go from there.
Question: [Inaudible] that it would be likely that an Albany legislator would propose this tax if you did not?
Mayor: I don't know if you heard everything I just said. I said we're going to let them decide what they think is sensible as a way to fund this. I'm not coming in promoting a specific methodology. I'm saying, "Here's roughly the dollar figure we need. Here's why it's going to work. We have a body of evidence from pre-K. We already have skin in the game, and we're asking for help from Albany." Then let them determine what shape that help would take. Now, I think I've got a lot of witnesses. I just said that we're putting everything on the table. We do not have a definitive plan. I'll be very interested to see what you write. I suspect it may not reflect the whole reality.
Who else? Sorry. I've been through the dance too many times. Who else? Yes?
Question: Just on the funding, just to clarify, you said, take the $200 million already currently being used, add $177 million from the City, and then $700 million more from State and federal. So that's about a little over a billion.
Question: Okay [inaudible]
Mayor: And that's an early estimate. Obviously, that number could vary a little either way as we get closer, but that's a ballpark of taking the almost $400 million that's already in play up to $700 million. May even be less, but up to $700 million to finish it out.
Mayor: Hold on, one second [inaudible] –
Question: Class sizes. Going back to sort of David's question about the needs of three-year-olds even more so than four-year-olds plus the fact that [inaudible].
Chancellor Farina: Three-year-old class size would be 15 compared to 18 for pre-K with two adults in the room.
Question: [Inaudible] three-year-old whether it's three, four, would it be the same thing?
Chancellor Farina: We'll balance it out.
Mayor: Way back.
Question: I have two questions. One is just, how did the $177 million figure come about [inaudible? And then the other is, [inaudible]Campaign for One New York [inaudible] pre-K.
Question: Do you feel like you need [inaudible]?
Mayor: I just answered that question. Were you here, respectfully? I just said we have no plan to do anything like that because this time it is an established vision, which has tremendous support, and we think we'll have a whole lot of support again. Apples and oranges situations.
On the previous question of the budget determination. Do you want to do that or does someone else want to do it? I'll start while they figure out – the basics is we took what it would take to enhance the existing EarlyLearn, because we believe fundamentally it needed to be improved. Great program. A lot of people doing great work. But they deserve more support. And then, adding universality in the first two districts, then ramping up to eight districts. That's how we got to the first number. The rest is a projection off of that of, "What if you then went to 24 more districts universal on top of it?" Who wants it?
Wallack: Yes, I'll take it.
We can provide more detail, but basically the way we built our estimates is, based on our experience in Pre-K For All, we took the approximate per seat cost that we've come up with for Pre-K For All, both in district schools and in community-based organizations, which we call New York City Early Education Centers, and then we adjusted it for the lower class size from 18 to 15. And then we also made an adjustment to say we probably won't reach 100 percent of the pre-K – we won't reach 100 percent of the pre-K enrollment level. We'll come in a little bit below, which I described, about 90 percent of where we came in for pre-K.
So that's basically how we got to the numbers. It will vary a lot depending on which districts we go into, because some are much bigger than others. But we made a model that just gives us a sense of where we're headed.
Question: Mayor, the City Council's committee that oversees the ACS budget recently put out a committee report saying that EarlyLearn, the ACS program, has seen decreasing enrollment, in part because of the challenge of finding qualified teachers for ACS EarlyLearn centers. I'm wondering how you think you can overcome – if there's already a scarcity of teachers, how do we overcome that in ramping up?
Mayor: I want to separate that. First, I'm looking at Commissioner Hansell and I'm looking at my colleagues here, and I don't know if I accept the premise, with all due respect to the City Council, I accept that premise declining enrollment because of lack of quality teachers. Anyone can speak to that, because I don't like to leave a premise unchallenged.
And then, on the second part of the equation, look. I guess, back to what I said earlier, we are going to invest a lot in getting the best teachers to do this work. We're going to make it a very appealing situation and provide a lot of support. I think it's fair to say that, for a long time, there wasn't enough, before we came along certainly, enough support for EarlyLearn, and I think teachers were put in a very tough situation.
But as we have changed the City's priorities and focused on early childhood, I think we're creating an environment where it's, for anyone who does early childhood teaching, it is a growing field with a lot more support, a lot more compensation. There's a lot going on here that makes it more appealing. So I don't suspect we're going to have any trouble getting the staff we need. It'll take the time, obviously, to ramp up, but I don't suspect we'll have any trouble in terms of people wanting to do the work.
Just on the first point, so we don't leave it unspoken, which one of you wants to speak? On the EarlyLearn piece? Let's both do it. I like to see collaboration.
Chancellor Farina: [inaudible]
Mayor: Which one of you is going to start?
Wallack: I'll start. I would just say that Pre-K For All, many of the early education centers that we work with also serve threes. It's a lot of the same organizations. In fact, we looked at it, and it's the large, large majority. So we know, because our instructional coaches and social workers are visiting there every month, that there's an incredibly talented teaching core there. And we are thrilled to partner with the Administration for Children's Services to increase supports of those teachers and help them get even better at what they're doing.
I would say that – I'm going to let the Commissioner push back on the premise of declining enrollment. I will say that one exciting thing we're going to do, beginning right now, is put our Pre-K For All outreach team, which is our team that tripled the number of kids in free full-day high-quality pre-K in just under two years, to work in filling any empty EarlyLearn seat there is. To the extent there are any, we're going to begin calls today to the families across the city to help get them to those seats, because we believe in them and we know they're high-quality.
Commissioner Hansell: Thank you. One of the things that we're very excited about partnering with the Department of Education on over the next year or so is on enhancing recruitment, using their avenues as well as our avenues to make sure that we fill every seat that currently exists, and then obviously as they move forward, to expand the program.
With regard to teachers, we actually reached a historic agreement last year to enhance compensation for those teachers. A number of things that we're doing including actual pay as well as benefits and other things. So we're already well underway in improving conditions for teachers and making sure the teachers are fully compensated and equitably compensated for the work that they do. And that will roll into the program as it moves to the Department of Education.
Chancellor Farina: An initiative this large starts much earlier than just the announcement today. One of the things that we have been working on for the last year is making sure that CUNY and SUNY and even the private universities do a better job of increasing their teacher training programs, including early childhood teachers. I have met with almost every dean of education. We have an entire committee. TWEED has been doing this.
We now started calling Educators Rising programs at all our high schools, so we will have more people who want to become teachers. So this is a wonderful initiative, but what happens behind the scenes is really monumental to ensure that this goes off without a hitch.
Mayor: Last call on this topic of 3-K. Let's see if we've got anything left. Going once. Going twice. Okay. Let's go to other topics.
Question: Mr. Mayor, what do you think about the acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez' new guidelines in terms of people who have been documented and convicted of [inaudible] crimes. [Inaudible] his office is going to be mindful [inaudible] educate everybody in the office about this. What do you think about that? Are you having a meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the next few days?
Mayor: I have no plans to meet with the Attorney General. If he wanted to meet, of course, I would, but I do not have a plan to right now.
I will reiterate what came out of the Justice Department the other day was an insult to the NYPD and an insult to the people of New York City. And you've seen the efforts to partially walk it back at DOJ, but not coherently walking it back. The strategies that made this the safest big city in the country were the strategies of this administration and this police commissioner. On – building on the incredible progress of our predecessors. So you can't separate the leadership and the policies and the rank-and-file. We're all doing this together and it is working. And I think it has been a pretty pitiful effort on the part of the Justice Department trying to somehow parse when they said something outrageous and inappropriate and absurd to begin with. I think they still owe it to the people of New York City and particularly to the men and women of the NYPD an apology and a clarification. But on the topic of the District Attorney, I have not seen his initiative. I will remind you, our current policy makes very clear – again, our public safety policy and I am going to keep bringing it back to that. Everything we are doing is first and foremost about the public safety of everyone including a million people who happen to be undocumented or a permanent resident that officers have been trained more and more to use all the options they have and use their discretion and their professional abilities to determine whether an arrest is necessary in a certain situation versus a summons versus a warning. And more and more we have seen arrest have not been necessary in a host of situations and other options have been made available including through actions of the City Council. That is the path we're on. So, I don't know the specifics of the District Attorney's approach, but I know what the NYPD is doing. And I know very clearly that in terms of anything involving ICE we're governed by a very clear City law.
Question: This is a question related to your announcement, development in my [inaudible] Bedford Park Norwood sections –
Mayor: I'm sorry – where are you –
Question: The Bedford Park and Norwood section of the Bronx is booming right now just as the local school district is experiencing a school seat shortage right now.
Question: You mentioned space issues already with this 3-K for All plan. Where does the City draw the line on its development push if there are not enough city services or seats as the [inaudible] demands?
Mayor: So I would say a couple of things – very good question – but a couple of points to it; that the – first of all, remember how much of this city – because of zoning – people have an opportunity to develop as is as a right. A lot of development happening is not because of rezonings or proposed rezonings; it is working under the existing rules. We tried to constantly adjust the supply of school seats accordingly. And I think the School Construction Authority has done an amazing job. They used to be an agency that bluntly was kind of slow. They are now becoming an agency that is pretty damn fast in the scheme of things and have produced new affordable housing at a rapid clip. And I think our existing plan is 40,000-plus seats in the capital plan, more coming. And they are moving fast.
So, the big answer is we – although we don't control exactly what type of development happens everywhere against a sort of popular understanding. I think a lot of New Yorkers think we literally get to choose where every building goes – no. It's a free enterprise system. There is a lot of opportunity for people to make those decisions within the zoning. But we watch the trends and we adjust to where we were putting more school space. We're going to keep doing that with great intensity. We're making a huge investment. With that being said, we came to a very strong strategic decision, particularly after having had an experience of pre-k that the highest impact investment we can make in our schools was at the youngest level. And that must be a priority. Think about it in terms of anything; any endeavor, any business. You invest your money where its going to have the biggest impact.
So, when we looked at it we knew we had a model that worked with pre-k. We knew we had a lot of areas where there was some available space we could work from or those community-based organizations that are already doing a three-year-old [inaudible] religious schools and the charters. So we were confident we could get a good strong start, but we knew it would take some new building as well. We came to the conclusion that that was a fundamental strategic priority. So, we're going to do that while making big commitment to addressing broader overcrowding issues. I think it is fair to say this is something we will be at for decades, honestly, because this is a city that is growing to nine million people over the next few decades. So honestly the City of New York will be building new school capacity every year, I guarantee you, for the next quarter-century to catch up with the demand that will keep growing in this city.
Question: So as we come up on President Trump/'s first 100 days. I know the City has spent a lot of time kind of fighting back against a lot of his initiatives, but one policy [inaudible]. Do you feel like in this 100 day period the City has spent time and resources to – has it had to neglect any other aspect or have you had to divert resources that maybe you wouldn't have had to have you not been [inaudible]?
Mayor: The overwhelming answer is no so far. I think you could point to a few exceptions. We're going to talk about what we have to do to help folks who are facing deportation and that is an area of new greater concern.
We have put a lot of energy into working with members of Congress and Mayors around the country to fight things like the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. That is true – had Hillary Clinton been elected president that is time and energy we would not have to spend, but it was a good use of time and energy and we're are obviously very pleased with the fact that Obama Care is alive and well. And we are right back to our efforts to maximize the number of New Yorkers who are getting health insurance. Our goal for this calendar year is to add 50,000 New Yorkers to the rolls of Obama Care than would have signed up anyway. So no, I think the verdict on the first 100 days is that not a lot happened. And that is a good thing for New Yorkers. And if that continues to be the case it will allow us to stay laser focused on our priorities and continue to do what we are here to do. I can't project what is going to happen with the continuing resolution. We all know that is the next big item. I'm not going to be surprised by anything, but there is a lot of opposition right now in Washington and out in the districts around the country to anything radical happening in the continuing resolution. So, you know, I'm not going to be surprised if we don't see major changes out of that and the next real venue shifts to the fall and the fight over the full federal budget. And even there I have said we see a lot of places where Trump is proposing cuts that we think are going engender massive opposition around the country including from a lot of Republicans.
Question: Another [inaudible] promise you made for the second term about is 300,000 new jobs over ten years. Looking back over your first three years there aren't a lot of plans – one of the plans that you did put out was [inaudible] created about 400 jobs. I'm wondering how would you see your record so far creating jobs and how do you imagine that that record prepares you to do more in the future?
Mayor: The first thing I will say is any new administration – so when we first came in, obviously, we were starting to create our vision and our approach. It takes time to take effect and to reach its fruition. It will be wrong if you came in the door and the first month or the first six months you said all of this job growth is happening is because of me. It's part of why we didn't really talk about it a lot in the first year or two. We wanted to have definitive evidence that our policies were having an impact. Obviously the vast majority of jobs are created because of choices made in the private sector. Some are created because of direct choices in the public sector like when we expanded some public employment or investments we made to foster growth of certain sectors. But I think the greatest truth is that the public sector sparks job growth when we get the basics right. When we're safe and getting safer; when we have relative unity in our city and our social fabric is strong, when we continue to show progress on education – and the trash gets picked up. All of the basics are – and I have heard this from many, many business leaders – that is what they are looking for first. Then they look at other things as well, of course. So, I feel good that we set the framework for what you know is well over 300,000 new jobs since we got here. Anywhere in the country – any leader would be proud to say that. I think there is only one city in the country that has a higher rate of growth or amount of growth I should say. The specific initiatives; the investments in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the investments in fostering the tech community, the investments in fostering the life sciences community and film and TV. We can get you the blow by blow, but I am very satisfied they are all working and I am very satisfied we are on that path to 100,000 new jobs.
Question: I have several questions; the first one is this – the Senate Republicans are suggesting that in order for you to get a continuation or an extension of Mayoral Control they would like you to agree to an increase in charter schools. I wonder what your thoughts are on that.
Mayor: I think Mayoral Control as an issue should stand alone. This is about what is best for our children and our families and what system of governance works. And I will say to anybody, respectfully, show me a better system. Do you want to go back to the chaos and corruption of the 32 school boards? Is there some magical third way no one has ever heard of? This is the only system that works. It should be continued. I know there will be once again a strong outpouring of support from the business community, from Democrats and Republicans alike calling for the continuation of Mayoral Control. And that should be decided onto itself. Any other issues should be treated on their own merits.
Question: Advent de Blasio watchers are suggesting –
Mayor: I didn't know were such a thing.
Question: They are suggesting that hair is darker, are they wrong?
Mayor: I think they are distinctly wrong.
Question: So, your hair is not darker?
Mayor: My hair is – I wish my hair was darker. No, nothing – the hair is totally natural, Marcia. And you're maybe the only person to think it is darker. And I am happy for this one moment. If you see it, I am happy.
Question: [Inaudible] with the budget and holding millions of dollars in funding on the [inaudible] Trump is holding [inaudible]. What's your reaction to it?
Mayor: My reaction is it's a dangerous strategy on the part of President Trump. Here is the great irony. The wall is not that popular. It's just not. I mean, look, again I always say there are people who voted for Trump because they were very angry at the status quo in this country. And we have to recognize that was, first and foremost, about their economic reality. There are others who voted for Trump out of ideological reasons. Sadly, some people voted for Trump because they had racist motivations. But a lot of people voted for Trump including these legendary Obama, Obama, Trump voters who were voting out of their anger at the status quo in this country. And they want to see their economic reality improve and building walls is not going to do anything for them. And a lot of them are smart enough to realize that fact that if building a wall thousand s of miles away is not going to help them and their family to have a better quality of life. So, it is a horrible misuse of government money. We have a country that needs our infrastructure to be addressed. We need to build better schools and bridges and roads and hospitals and all sorts of other things. Why would we be building a wall when we also all know that immigration has actually declined – illegal immigration has actually declined? So, it just doesn't make any sense. And to suggest that they might shutdown the government over it that is even the bigger problem. I think it is quite clear that if there is a government shutdown that will be the thing that is remembered most about the first 100 days of Donald Trump. And I can't believe they want to take that chance.
Question: Mr. Mayor, this weekend we saw the second tragedy in a matter of a week of a young infant in The Bronx in a family that had a history with ACS. Have you personally been briefed on these two cases? And based on what you know are you able to say whether you are comfortable with the decision making in leaving these children – both infants and toddlers [inaudible].
Mayor: I've been briefed but I am not going to go into detail now. These are sensitive situations that are still being looked at. There are obviously real confidentiality issues. So, there will be a point when we can say a little more. I think at this moment every case is being looked at very, very carefully. I give Commissioner Hansel credit and Deputy Mayor Palacio – that they pour over every case. As you know, the ChildStat system is being built up to make sure that the practice in each situation is being done properly. What I can broadly – and I've said this to you before – without getting into the specifics of this case, we're going to be looking at how ACS handled each step along the way. We're also going to be looking at the dynamics around the court system and the decisions that they court system is making because often – not always, but often, ACS is actually the more aggressive party, looking for a removal in courts – often had been unwilling to go along, and that's something we have to weigh in every case. We'll have more to say in the next few days, as we're able to.
Question: Mayor, I was wondering if you could address Dan Donovan, the Congressman – he talked about the fact [inaudible] back and forth that you had with the DOJ. Obviously, he was very supportive of the Police Department, but he also said that the Mayor and the City can't pick and choose which laws it's going to enforce. So, it's a criticism of your policies [inaudible]?
Mayor: I have a lot of respect for Congressman Donovan. I had a nice dinner with him during Staten Island week, and I want to, once again, say I think he did something important, standing up for his district on the Affordable Care Act issue, but I disagree with his interpretation here. We believe we're complying with the law very clearly. We have local law, duly passed, and signed, and not legally challenged that makes very clear how we are to comport ourselves. And localities in this country have rights – that's what the Constitution says. Localities make core decisions about how to go about governing their own people – it's one of the most fundamental American ideas in governance. Now, you will remember the great irony here – that Republicans used to invoke state's rights when they weren't in power in Washington. Now, they are in power – they seem to be less interested in local decisions and the rights of people locally to make their own decisions about their own lives. So, we believe we are respecting the federal law. We also believe we're respecting the Supreme Court decision in 2012 that made clear the limits on the federal ability to withhold funding. We're very comfortable with the position we're taking.
Question: [Inaudible[ yesterday's fire [inaudible] –
Mayor: No, it was horrendous. I was out there and I can say broadly, having spent time with Commissioner Nigro and Chief of Department Jim Leonard – that, for them, they said this was a really rare situation to have in the middle of the day, on a nice day, a house go up in flames that quickly. It was striking to them. There is not theory at this moment that I know of. There's only the beginning of an investigation, so it would be wrong to surmise, but it was extraordinary in the worst sense of the word – an extraordinarily horrible fire, both in terms of its intensity and the five lives that were lost. We'll have more to say on that as the investigation continues.
Question: Mayor, there's [inaudible] Tax Equity Now in New York that's going to file a class action lawsuit against the Department of Finance regarding what they're saying is an inequitable property tax system. You, yourself, have just recently actually also describe inequities within the property tax system. Their [inaudible] says [inaudible] disproportionately taxes people in low-income and moderate-income neighborhoods, many of them people of color. So, I'm curious, since you seem to agree that there's a problem with the system, is there any thought towards settling the suit when it's filed, if you agree with the premise of –
Mayor: I have not seen any details of this theoretical lawsuit. That's not the way to solve the problem – through a lawsuit. The courts aren't the place to settle this. Some of this has to be handled at the City level, as a matter of City policy. Some of this has to be handled at the State level. A lot of taxation, as you know, is determined by the State. What I have pledged to do, and it will be a very major undertaking is pull together all the stakeholders and set us on a path to reform, its going to be a very tough and complicated process, and we can't fundamentally change the revenue that we're receiving from our property taxes, so it's going to be – here's the pie, how do you rework the pie while still achieving the same outcome? How do you make it more consistent, more transparent? We're willing to work with anyone to get that done, just as long as everyone understands it will be a long, and sober, and difficult process. But putting it into the court system – that's not the way to make decisions, first of all. And also guarantee you that will be years and years of litigation that won't result in anything any time soon. So, we're committed to doing it, but let's do it the right way through the legislative process.
Question: But, you know, people have been talking about this for years, it hasn't happened. You talked about it in 2014 when you came into office. It hasn't happened yet. Do you think that – that's taken years and years – do you think people deserve to know – you've now said you'll look at it after re-election – why you didn't you do it during the first term? And do you think people deserve to know before they go to the polls what your plan might be and whether it might cost them more or less in property taxes?
Mayor: I think people should understand the core ground rules of what I'm trying to do and I think that's important that we're going to end up with essentially the same total revenue, that we're going to create more consistency and transparency. There's no way I can give them the outline of the plan today, because I think it's going to take a year or two to develop. We didn't do it because we had to work on a lot of other priorities that were crucial and necessary and available to be acted on, versus this, which I knew would be a very involved, difficult process that would take the energies of our budget director, our first deputy mayor, our finance commissioner, and a whole lot of other people. This would be a huge, huge effort. So, anyone who promises a quick fix is not telling the truth. This one's exceedingly thorny and it has to be navigated – you know, the pieces that can be decided administratively and legislatively at the city level, plus the pieces that have to be decided in Albany – that's a very careful balance that has o be struck. So, I'm telling people I'm going to do it. And if you look at my batting average of what I say I'm going to do, I do what I say I'm going to do, and they can rest assured I'm not happy with the situation. I think it's something that has to be addressed, but it's not realistic to address it this term. Right now, there's an election coming up. I don't take that for granted. I've got to do all I can to get our current initiatives to deepen. You know, my guarantee, my term of employment is until December 31st. So, while I have that, I'm going to make sure everything possible can get done gets done. I also have to go out to the people and talk about a vision for the future – that takes a lot of time and energy too, that's not surprising. But this will get done. It'll be very difficult, but it will get done.
Question: Some people will have to pay more? Some people will pay less?
Mayor: As a theoretical point, if you're going to rework the entire system, yeah, there would be changes. But anyone who starts to assume is on a fool's errand. So, again, this is the caution – you guys like to take, respectfully, a quote and project upon it – it would be a mistake to do that. This is going to be a long, careful examination to figure out what's fair.
Unknown: Last two.
Question: Mr. Mayor, you made the announcement today [inaudible] every question that we wanted to ask on that topic. Don't virtually all policy announcements deserve the opportunity for that back and forth? For those questions? I'm thinking just Saturday – that green jobs announcement on Staten Island, the [inaudible] announcement – no questions allowed. Don't policy announcements necessitate that opportunity?
Mayor: Look, we're doing things the way we think makes sense and, I think, in the end, we're just going to have to agree to disagree. In a given week, you know, we do these kind of press conferences, I do different TV and radio shows, I did one of the national shows this last week – two, actually – I did Jorge Ramos as well as CNN. I'm going to be talking to people in all sorts of venues, but we have to organize things the way we think makes sense. Any questions you have, you're going to get answers from the Press Office and from other leaders in the administration, or you can ask me when you're around me. But this is the way we're organizing things and we think it makes sense.
Yoav, then Rich –
Question: So, Mr. Mayor –
Mayor: Yoav, then Rich. Is your name Yoav, now?
Question: It's my middle name.
Mayor: The truth comes out.
Question: You spoke to a caller on the radio show Friday about concerns about the homeless shelter that's coming into Crown Heights. You insisted that the folks who were going to be sheltered there would be from the community, but the group of advocates that are suing over that site is pointing to court records that were [inaudible] by the administration that say that only one-third of the residents are going to be from Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights together. So, I'm wondering – that came from your administration.
Mayor: The whole system – look, we also – you are a smart person, we are in a transitional moment. Every shelter is being reoriented to being community-based. The community board it's in – and we've said, initiatively we're going to do surrounding areas too, because it takes a while to rebalance the whole system. So, I've said it a whole lot of times – we start with borough, and we're working our way from borough to more and more local – ideally, literally, to people being in the community board they come from – that won't happen overnight. But that is the vision for that shelter and every other shelter. It's as simple as that.
Question: You told that caller she had her facts wrong. She was claiming people weren't going to be from that community and, in fact, it looked like two-thirds of them –
Mayor: I'll let the deputy mayor and the Commissioner speak to it. Respectfully, I'm not going to take your interpretation of the court records. I'll let them speak to what the nix is in the community. But my point to the caller was, she was, respectfully, ignoring this plan and this vision, and her argument not only ignored the vision, but ignored the need to serve people in need in a way that's being done very carefully. These are 62-year-old – and over – people. It's just – I'm not going to buy people coming up with all sorts of wonderful reasons why they should not serve people in need in their community. Everyone should – everyone will.
Go ahead, Rich.
Question: Mr. Mayor, so although you say you don't take the election for granted, a lot of people think it's a [inaudible] given the competition and the kind of – everything [inaudible] at the point. And you did mention the presidential election of 2020. I'm wondering if there's any glimmer of hope in your mind that you might be one of the candidates running?
Mayor: I think your question is, respectfully – it doesn't make a lot of sense if I just told you I'm trying to win this election and I don't take it for granted. This is – my feet are fully on the ground. This is what we're focused on. And, you know what? You can prognosticate all you want – not you, personally, but one can – anyone who takes an election for granted gets paid back for it, in my opinion. So, this is what we're doing.
Thank you, everyone.