Editor's Note: the following post comes from The Teachers' Association of the Tarrytowns in light of proposed changes to the pre-k program outlined on Patch here. Have a letter or announcement you'd like to share? Click here; blog it here; or email me at Krista.Madsen@Patch.com.
To: Superintendent Dr. Howard Smith
From: Teachers’ Association of the Tarrytowns
Re: Elimination of district-run Pre-Kindergarten program
The tentative budget proposal that eliminates the district-run Pre-Kindergarten program and outsources these services to an outside, private agency ends a 45 year old district tradition. Since 1968, this district-run program has been an essential part of our community and school culture. Our early childhood program is taught by experienced, highly qualified teachers and teaching assistants. These teachers have been trained to implement the district’s extensive initiatives, including the new Common Core Standards, the APPR and, are active participants in district-run professional training.
When this new plan was presented to the union leadership, it was the district’s decision that we would either have a private Pre-Kindergarten or no Pre-Kindergarten. Although the idea of an outsourced Pre-Kindergarten was rejected by the union, the thought of hurting our youngest, most vulnerable students was even more repugnant. We all know how important early childhood education is to all children but with the rigors of the new curriculum, higher State-mandated standards and even higher performance expectations throughout the grades, our students need a strong, recognized Pre-Kindergarten program now more than ever.
Contracting out the district Pre-Kindergarten services will result in six staff members being reassigned and, open the district up to the real possibility that our district’s students will be taught by less experienced, less trained, underpaid private Pre-Kindergarten staff and will interfere with the traditional ease of transition from Pre-Kindergarten to Kindergarten for our students and families.
In light of Governor Cuomo’s education taskforce report that supports rigorous Pre-Kindergarten programs for all students, it seems shortsighted to do away with a well-established, educationally sound, successful program to save money. It is the TAT’s understanding that the district will receive more school aid this year and hopes that the Board of Education re-thinks this proposal, factoring in the added revenue from the state and the ramifications of losing a respected, effective 45 year, Public Schools of the Tarrytowns’ tradition.