In all the hub-bub in Albany over New York City’s move to require pre-kindergarten programs for children, a grassroots group staged a protest Tuesday in Port Chester to demand the state require full-day kindergarten statewide.
Westchester United, a group of community, religious and parent-based child advocacy groups and individuals, pointed out that New York does not require kindergarten, even though every public school district in the state with an elementary school offers either half-day or full-day kindergarten. As tax money becomes tighter, several districts have threatened to cut kindergarten out entirely.
Representatives from the organization have worked with state Rep. Amy Paulin to create a resolution to require kindergarten in public schools and convinced 25 state Assembly members to co-sponsor the bill, as well as Democratic and Independent Democratic Caucus members in the Senate. That legislation is still in committee.
“Westchester United asks Speaker (Sheldon) Silver to bring it to the floor and calls on Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo to be the children’s lobbyist he promised to be and demonstrate his unequivocal support for kindergarten in general and full-day kindergarten in particular,” said Adam Barbanel-Fried, lead organizer for Tuesday’s protest.
“Westchester United asks: why is cutting kindergarten even an option?” he said.
The protest was held outside the Early Learning Center on Central Avenue in Port Chester at 2 p.m. and was designed to coincide with the end of the school day when parents pick up their youngsters.
Barbanel-Fried said his organization would continue to fight for full-day kindergarten for all public school students. For more information, visit westchester-united.org or metro-iaf-ny.org
(Photos were provided by Adam Barbanel-Fried)