On Thursday, Governor Phil Murphy announced that he is committed to expanding early education in NJ and that the state will provide universal pre-K to all families over the next few years. It was welcome news for families that rely on pre-K for childcare and as a foundation for their children’s academic success.
Funding will establish or expand on high-quality pre-K programs in 19 additional school districts across the state. The Department of Education will develop a plan to further expand pre-K throughout the state.
“Every $1 we invest in high-quality early childhood education = $7 in overall return as a child grows,”
the governor posted on Instagram and Facebook. “Investing in pre-K is how we keep New Jersey a national leader in every field.”
In a short video, Murphy said the plan was to provide pre-K for “every 3 and 4-year-old in our state.”
“Each and every day I see the impact that our program can have on children,” said Vera Csizmadia, integrated pre-K teacher at the Dr. Charles Smith Early Education Center where the governor made his announcement. “Many of our students come to school with an empty stomach. They have no access to books or other resources in their homes and lack educational support at home because parents work multiple jobs to provide for their families.”
The Universal Pre-K Strategic Plan will focus on prioritizing districts and setting a timeline for expansion, ensuring students have appropriate facilities and quality programming and involving childcare providers and Head Start in planning to avoid displacing existing high-quality early learning centers, among other things.
“From the very beginning, our administration has held access to quality education as a core value,” said Murphy. “We believe that a good education not only equips students with skills and knowledge, but that it ultimately has the power to change the trajectory of someone’s life.”
In addition to the vision for pre-K statewide, Governor Murphy announced 19 school districts have been awarded $17 million in pre-K expansion funding for the 2021-2022 school year.
“Investing in education is the Right thing to do!! Thank you Governor Murphy!!” wrote one commenter on Facebook.
“Thank you Mr. Governor!” wrote another person. “This is an outstanding initiative. New Jersey will continue to have the country’s best public schools thanks to strong leadership as you’ve shown over these past four years!”
“My preschooler is so happy in his new school, and we are grateful for him to be there,” posted one parent.
“This is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” said Murphy.