universal preschool

It’s the first day of school for more than a million students, as New York City schools are back in session today.

But there is a new crop of youngsters donning backpacks and school uniforms, as Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s new free universal pre-kindergarten program commences. Tens of thousands of 4-year-olds will head to more than 1,700 sites across the city to begin their academic careers.

Flickr Photo/Dow Constantine (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to WBUR reporter David Scharfenberg about Boston's efforts to expand its preschool system. Here in Seattle, the City Council is considering a property tax levy to fund universal preschool.

Flickr Photo/Dow Constantine (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds speaks with Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess about the recently unveiled proposal to fund universal pre-K in Seattle. The proposal was announced today by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Councilmember Burgess, and Seattle Schools Superintendent Jose Banda. If approved by the City Council, the proposal will be forwarded to the November ballot.

Flickr Photo/Nick Amoscato (CC BY-NC-ND)

Steve Scher talks with Liv Finne, director of Washington Policy Center's Center for Education, about her take on universal preschool and why she thinks Seattle should focus its priorities elsewhere.

Flickr Photo/Barnaby Wasson (CC BY-NC-ND)

On Wednesday, the Seattle City Council held its first committee meeting to consider a plan for providing universal preschool for three and four year olds. The effort is being led by Councilmember Tim Burgess.

Burgess told KUOW that "we know from all of the academic research that preschool for three and four year olds is a key step to prepare them to enter kindergarten, so they can learn and thrive throughout their education process."

Not everyone finds that research so convincing. Liv Finne of the Washington Policy's Education Center said, "the research has been exaggerated," and if Seattle moves forward with a plan to provide universal preschool, "we're not going to get the results that are being promised."

The Seattle City Council will continue to meet in the coming months.