BY NATHAN DUKE
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza kicked off the first day of the new school year on Wednesday at Ozone Park’s PS 377 during the first-ever day of 3-K for All in Queens.
3-K for All—a free, full-day program for 3-year-olds in the five boroughs—has now expanded to 187 sites across six city school districts for the 2018-2019 school year. This year will mark the program’s expansion into Queens in District 27—which serves Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways.
The program is also offered in East Harlem’s District 4, Harlem’s District 5, the South Bronx’s District 7, Bedford-Stuyvesant’s District 16 and District 23, which serves Brownsville, East New York and Ocean Hill.
“For too long, New York City was divided,” de Blasio said. “Some people could afford an early start and others couldn’t. That’s why we made early childhood education a priority from day one and why we’ve worked to expand our programs to reach every child, regardless of zip code or income level.”
The 3-K for All program now serves approximately 5,000 students across four boroughs. During the previous school year, it served 1,500 students at 47 sites in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
“This is an exciting time as New York City’s children head back to school for their first day of classes,” said state Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park), who represents sections of District 27. “This momentous occasion is made even more promising as the 3-K program is expanding to include more pupils and giving them the headstart that they need to succeed.”
According to the mayor’s office, the city’s 3-K rollout plan is ahead of schedule. Originally, a total of four districts—as opposed to the six that are now in operation—were planned for the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
Now, the city is planning to have 12 districts offering the program by fall 2021, compared to the original plan to debut eight by that time. An estimated 19,000 3-K seats will be available in all five boroughs by fall 2021, the mayor’s office said.
“3-K for All teaches young students how to learn, how to cooperate, how to solve problems and puts them on the path to lifelong academic success,” Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson said.
Regarding other city education benchmarks, the city’s Equity and Excellence for All initiative is aiming for 80 percent of students to graduate from high school on time and two-thirds of graduates to be college-ready by 2026, the mayor’s office said.
The city’s Universal Literacy program aims to ensure that students are reading on grade level by the end of second grade. The goal of the initiative is to have at least two-thirds of students reading on grade level by 2022 and 100 percent of all second-graders reading proficiently by 2026. Approximately 500 Universal Literacy reading coaches are currently available at elementary schools citywide, and the initiative has expanded to support children who speak a language other than English at home and those with reading delays.
The city’s AP for All initiative will provide access to AP (Advanced Placement) classes for 75 percent of high school students during this school year, the mayor’s office said. The program’s goal is to ensure that all high school students have access to at least five AP classes by fall 2021.
The College Access for All program now reaches every middle and high school in the five boroughs and, starting this year, every seventh-grader in New York City will have an opportunity to visit a college campus. And the city is also currently reviewing plans to ensure that classrooms are more diverse and inclusive by the end of the year.