De Blasio: Free ‘3-K Education’ Should Be ‘Universal Right’

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio testifies during a joint legislative budget hearing on local government Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Albany, N.Y.
Hans Pennink/AP Photo

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Friday called for “universal 3-K education”–full-day education for three-year-olds–and predicted it will soon become a “universal right.”

Addressing the National Education Association’s presidential forum in Texas, the 2020 presidential candidate said the best time to reach a child “is between birth and five years old.”

“In many parts of this country, full-day education doesn’t start until the child’s six. We are doing it backwards,” he said. “We need not only full-day kindergarten, we need full-day pre-K. And I’ve done that in the biggest school system in the country …But why stop there, America? We should do the same for three-year olds.”

Pitching himself as the progressive who has actually gotten results on issues like universal pre-K programs, de Blasio said 20,000 three-year-olds in New York will be getting “universal 3-K” this fall. De Blasio predicted that 500,000 jobs for educators across America will be created with national programs for universal pre-K, kindergarten, and 3-K.

“And I’m not just talking to talk, I’m walking the walk in New York City,” de Blasio said.

He said universal pre-K was his top priority when he first ran for mayor even though it was not the issue that pollsters thought would be the most popular. De Blasio said the more one talks about an issue like pre-K, “it becomes an issue on everybody’s minds.”

De Blasio also said that education must be a “federal responsibility” and added “this is the year that we can have this discussion in the right way.” He also said there should be “no federal funding for charter schools” and urged Democrats not to nominate anyone who supports charter schools.

“Too many Republicans but also too many Democrats have been cozy with the charter schools. Let’s be blunt about it. We need to hold our own party accountable too,” de Blasio said, adding that nobody should be the “Democratic nominee unless they are willing to stand up to Wall Street and the rich people behind the charter school movement once and for all.”

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