NEW YORK, NY – On Wednesday, April 23, Bank Street College of Education hosted a panel discussion titled, Universal Pre-K in New York City: Quality & Equity in the Face of Rapid Expansion. The event was part of the College’s Niemeyer Series, an annual forum focused on contemporary issues in education.
Featured on the panel was Regina Gallagher, who is Director of Early Childhood Programs at Goddard Riverside’s Head Start program. In addition to being an alumna of Bank Street Graduate School of Education, Ms. Gallagher is a recognized advocate of high quality, developmentally appropriate public education. The panel was moderated by respected early childhood expert Samuel J. Meisels, Ed.D. and featured two senior officials from de Blasio’s administration who are leading the mayor’s initiative to expand pre-K services in New York: Richard Buery and Josh Wallack.
Ms. Gallagher, who works with nearly 40 pre-K aged students daily, offered an on-the-ground perspective. She emphasized the need for proper training and mentoring for teachers to achieve the level of quality and educator buy-in that the de Blasio administration has promised.
“I know this is a radical idea, but they should be working with experienced teachers as opposed to coaches who lack experience in the classroom” stated Ms. Gallagher. She also spoke of the need for balanced, age-appropriate curriculum for the young students, stating that “play is work of children – it’s their job.”
Under the leadership of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city is in the midst of an aggressive push to provide quality pre-Kindergarten services for every child. Bank Street’s panel addressed the question of how to expand services without sacrificing quality for children from all socioeconomic backgrounds.