Daily News: EXCLUSIVE: Children from low income neighborhoods account for more than half of NYC pre-K enrollment
BY JOHN SPINA , BEN CHAPMAN
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, September 13, 2015, 2:30 AM
Families from low-income neighborhoods are more likely to enroll in city pre-kindergarten programs, a Daily News analysis of Education Department data shows.
Kids from areas with median incomes that are below the city average of $51,865 account for 62% of registrants in the free, full-day programs that kicked off Wednesday.
By contrast, four-year-olds who live in areas with median incomes higher than $100,000 account for just 2% of sign-ups for Mayor de Blasio’s signature education program.
De Blasio, who aimed his $445 million pre-K expansion at underserved communities, said needy families can benefit from city pre-K programs, which now boast 65,000 registrants and counting.
“It’s especially powerful for struggling and working families, where it closes the achievement gap and helps parents make ends meet,” de Blasio said. “That’s why we’ve gone all-out, to get every child into the pre-K that’s right for them.”
De Blasio boosted the Big Apple’s pre-K capacity from 19,000 seats in 2013 to more than 80,000 seats in 2015 by expanding existing programs and funding a slew of new ones.
The city added more than 21,000 new pre-K slots in 2014, when some critics said high-income neighborhoods got more than their fair share of new seats.
But nearly half of the 12,000 new pre-K seats added in 2015 were taken by kids from low-income neighborhoods. And just 5% of new pre-K students come from areas with average incomes higher than $100,000.
The two areas with the highest increase in attendance for 2015 are Corona, Queens and Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Both of those neighborhoods have median incomes of roughly $45,000, according to 2013 U.S. census data.
Bronx barber Eric Maldonado said free pre-K gives his son Ethan, who turns 4 in November, access to a high-quality education that his family couldn’t otherwise afford.
“As a family who is less fortunate, we’re getting exactly what we would pay for, if we were more fortunate,” said Maldonado, 33, whose family of five relies on roughly $45,000 in combined yearly income earned by him and his wife. “It’s a quality education, and that matters to any family.”
The 2015 pre-K expansion also benefited affluent neighborhoods, where there was previously a shortage of available seats.
Brooklyn’s District 15, which includes Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, have suffered from massive pre-K waitlists for years.