Mayor Marty Walsh gave his State of the City speech on Tuesday night. He praised Boston’s progress; called for action on its challenges, and took time to focus on the needs of the city’s children. (The video is available here.)
“I know that passions run deep. And they should. But the commitment we share to Boston’s children runs deeper. We have tremendous opportunities to come together right now, behind programs that experts, teachers, and parents all agree make a lasting difference. That’s why I invite everyone to join me in making a stand for early education,” the mayor said.
“The Boston Public Schools pre-kindergarten program is proven to close the achievement gap. The city has added seats in each of the last two years. Yet hundreds of children still sit on waiting lists, their parents frustrated and already doubting that the system will ever work for them. We’ve stretched funding as far as it will go. And we are not alone. I ask leadership at the State House, and every legislator, to work with Boston, with Lawrence, with Salem, with Attleboro and other cities and towns to expand access to high-quality pre-kindergarten.
“I know we share this priority. Now let’s fund it. Let’s work through the state budget process this year to make it a full investment in our children, our families, and our Commonwealth’s future. Let’s live up to our reputation as the world leader in learning. Let’s put Boston and Massachusetts at the forefront of early education. And let’s give all our kids an equal chance at success.”
This morning, the Boston Globe featured an op-ed — “Guaranteed pre-K gives kids a strong start” — that was written by Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang.
In the piece they write about parents who face the “stressful ritual” of trying to secure a pre-K seat for their 4-year-olds because Boston doesn’t have the resources to offer a spot to all of these children.
“The result is that many families start their child’s experience with public education feeling disappointment and frustration. For some, this is the moment they begin thinking seriously about whether to stay in the city or move out.
“Even more significantly, for many children, it’s a moment that can make the difference between success and struggle in the years ahead. BPS data show that children who go to K1 outperform their peers in subsequent years — regardless of race or poverty. Harvard researchers independently concluded that our program’s gains were ‘the largest found to date in evaluations of large-scale public pre-kindergarten programs.’”
“…we’ve made it our priority to expand pre-kindergarten — at this same level of excellence — until every 4-year-old in the city is guaranteed a seat.”
But Boston can’t go it alone.
“We’ve stretched municipal and community funding as far as they can go. We need help. And we’re not alone. Lawrence, Salem, Attleboro, and other cities and towns face similar challenges.
“It’s a statewide issue. So we are asking the state for help. We are appealing to leadership at the State House, and every legislator, to work with cities and towns to expand access to high-quality pre-kindergarten classrooms.
“We know state leaders share this priority with us. And we know that legislators have proposed smart ideas for making it a reality, by targeting support to cities and towns that need it. Now it’s time to fund it: to work through the state budget process, this year, to make a transformative investment in our children, our communities, and our Commonwealth’s future.”
Walsh and Chang conclude:
“We ask everyone who cares about our children to come together behind this powerful, proven model. Let’s live up to our state’s reputation as the world leader in learning. Let’s put Boston and Massachusetts at the forefront of early education, where we belong. And let’s give all our kids an equal chance at success.”
As we move into a new budget season, we hope that this passion from mayors, parents, and legislators will crystallize into a strong investment in our children’s early educations.