The start of public school on Thursday in New York City should be the usual merry scramble of chattering children and stressed (or relieved) parents. There will also be something new: a fresh crop of 4-year-olds, more than 50,000, embarking on the first day of free, full-day, citywide, city-run prekindergarten.
It’s worth pausing to note what an accomplishment this is. Fifty thousand is a small city’s worth of children, each getting a head start on a lifetime of learning. It is so many families saving the cost of day care or private prekindergarten. It is a milestone of education reform.
City and school officials have been busy finding vendors, hiring and training teachers, inspecting buildings, guiding parents and signing up children. No other city has done something so big, so quickly, and it would not have happened but for Bill de Blasio, who, in a crowded field of Democratic mayoral candidates, put forth this idea and built his campaign around it.