Governor Dannel Malloy hit the road on Friday, selling his plan for universal pre-kindergarten classes.
He says it’s the best way to close Connecticut’s “Achievement Gap.” Malloy brought universal pre-K to Stamford when he was the mayor there. Now, with the state budget looking better, he wants to make the policy state-wide.
Approximately 10,000 kids take part in state-funded pre-K programs, mostly in big cities and rim suburbs. Included in the curriculum, kids at the Helen Street School in Hamden are actually learning to write and spell at ages three and four.
“[We teach them] how to learn to write and spell, but also to want to, and to convert their thoughts and ideas into written words,” said a teacher at the school.
“They’re learning how to be in school. They’re learning how to share a space with other children, how to follow directions given by other adults, their teachers,” she said.
And research is showing that can save money later on, because it appears that kids that go to Pre-K are much less likely to need very expensive ‘Special Education Classes.’
The Governor was interviewed today by the fourth and fifth grade reporters for the school newspaper at Helen Street School. Malloy said he wants to expand pre-K to 4,000 more kids over the next few years, on the way to making it accessible to all kids in the years ahead.
Tim Miller’s son is in the Pre-K program at the Helen Street School.
“Our son Patrick loves looking forward to going to school each and every day, he loves learning to explore new things. He asks to come to school even on Sundays,” Miller said.
Parents pay a sliding fee depending on their ability to pay.
But even Malloy’s modest expansion will cost an additional $14 million.
“Now that things are starting to get a little bit better; to go from a $3.6 billion dollar deficit to a $500 million surplus is nice, and so part of it is also recognizing what our priorities need to be,” Malloy said. “And this is a priority.”