Together, we’re reaching the end of May; together we’re moving forward as New Jersey restarts and recovers. As never before, families across our state understand first-hand the commitment needed to deliver a high-quality education. Providing that education – including to our 3- and 4-year-olds – has been a collaborative effort. Parents at home became ‘teachers’ for their children. New Jersey’s teachers worked around-the-clock to provide remote educational services and encouragement for their students. School administrators started exploring creative, safe ways to reinvent the educational and classroom experience for the 2020-2021 school year and beyond.
With so much happening in our lives, communities, state and global environment, this newsletter is brief. Our purpose: know that we've been maintaining our focus on keeping momentum on pre-k expansion for the coming school year - and beyond. Therefore, this newsletter looks forward with good news - something we all can use NOW! For the third consecutive year, the proposed state budget contained excellent news for NJ's pre-K. Governor Murphy's FY2021 budget supports pre-k in nearly 180 districts - with funding for about 30 new ones. Thanks, Governor Murphy!
In 2019, pre-k expansion remained a New Jersey priority! Consider this: three years ago, there were only 35 communities with state-funded, full-day pre-k. New Jersey now has 140+ communities with NJ's pre-k. It is a priority for the Governor, Legislative Leadership and NJ Department of Education. Of course, there's more to do, but the success of 2019 was important for NJ's 3- and 4-year-olds, and for our state!
Fall 2019 is already a success! October 1 marked the start of classes for all of the 28 newest expansion districts; Education Commissioner Repollet cited pre-k expansion as both the proudest accomplishment and as priority for the coming school year; previous expansion districts provided additional seats for 3- and 4-year-olds in their communities to continue ongoing pre-k expansion!
NJ's pre-k expansion arrived at Summer 2019 with a bang - and that 'bang' was from more than July's holiday fireworks: Pre-k expansion received confirmed state budget funding for a 3rd consecutive year - that's a cumulative total of approximately $170-175 million in new pre-k expansion funding in only three years! Thank you to Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Coughlin and bipartisan support from the legislature for continued leadership in making NJ's state-funded, full-day pre-k a statewide priority! 150+ local school districts met the 20% at-risk eligibility level to apply for pre-k expansion funding; they were notified directly by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) weeks earlier than the past two years, enabling earlier preparation by districts. NJDOE's July 9 mandatory Technical Assistance meetings - the first part of the pre-k expansion application process - were held in a larger location than planned due to a high registration count (and a great turnout)!
In his just-delivered 2019 Budget Address, Governor Murphy continued NJ's commitment to pre-k expansion and proposed more funding for it - $68 million! As always, additional details will become clear in the next few days. However, we wanted to share the news that pre-k expansion remains a statewide priority, and there is pre-k expansion funding in the governor's proposed budget!
"Today, more children are attending a high-quality pre-k program..."
That was the first of three shout-outs for pre-k in Governor Murphy's first State of the State address. Delivered on January 15, the State of the State address continued to include pre-k: "To prepare our kids for a better future, we invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our schools and pre-k. Now, 4,000 more 3- and 4-year-olds are attending a high-quality pre-k program..." and "I look forward to working with you - and with Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin and their teams across the aisle - to build a state that leads for all the right reasons and in all the right ways. The state others point to and say, "that's what the future looks like... It's a state where young families can grow and prosper. A state that redefines public education for our nation, with access to a free education from pre-k all the way to an Associate's degree."
After more than a decade, pre-k expansion firmly took its place as a New Jersey priority! Consider this: two years ago, there were only 35 communities with state-funded, full-day pre-k. Last school year, a few thousand additional 3- and 4-year-olds in another 26 communities received that opportunity. This year - after two rounds of awards - there are now more than 100 communities with access to NJ's pre-k. There's more to do, but 2018 was important for NJ's 3- and 4-year-olds, and for our state! Throughout 2018, Governor Murphy stated his commitment - and the commitment of his administration - to pre-k expansion as an investment in New Jersey. The legislative leadership consistently demonstrated its strong support for pre-k expansion. As we celebrate the end of 2018, Pre-K Our Way says thanks to YOU - and of course, to the Governor and Legislature. Together, let's toast a New Year's Resolution for 2019: Now, it's time to significantly fund pre-k expansion!
After more than a decade, this is the first school year with pre-k expansion as a priority in New Jersey! Consider this: only two years ago, there were 35 communities with state-funded, full-day pre-k. Last school year, a few thousand additional 3- and 4-year-olds in another 26 communities received that opportunity. This year - after two rounds of awards, one announced in late August and another this week - there are now more than 100 communities with access to NJ's pre-k. There's more to do, but this is an important moment for NJ's 3- and 4-year-olds, and for our state! Two groups of pre-k expansion districts in one school year has never happened - until now!
Yes, pre-k is a priority in New Jersey! The new state budget has nearly $83 million in pre-k expansion funding for the 2018-2019 school year. The New Jersey Department of Education (NJ DOE) has already announced the application process - and deadlines - for the use of $25 million of that funding for NEW expansion districts in the coming school year. Because of what we've done together, be proud that some of the 50,000 3- and 4-year-olds who have been waiting will be attending pre-k in just a few months. Working together, we made that happen. Take a few minutes to celebrate, accept thanks - and find out what's next!
NJ reached the end of May and observed the first holiday weekend of summer 2018. Kids, families, teachers and school personnel are within weeks of the end of the school year. However, if you're one of 50,000 3- and 4-year-olds in our state, you're ending yet another year of waiting for access to NJ's full-day, state-funded pre-k. Let's change that!
April 2018 celebrated NJ's pre-k: present, past - and future! This month delivered not only the usual showers (and yet more snow), but the heart of budget season in Trenton and support for significant funding for pre-k expansion proposed in Governor Murphy's first budget. Throughout the month, Pre-K Our Way shared a consistent message on behalf of the 50,000 3- and 4-year-olds waiting every year for the pre-k promised to them a decade ago: We're ready for pre-k!
Governor Murphy used his first Budget Message to include significant funding for pre-k expansion! This represents another important step towards the full-funding of the 2008 law that calls for availability of state-funded, full-day, high-quality pre-k programs across our state - and for the 50,000 3- and 4-year-olds every year as promised a decade ago.
New Jersey is less than two weeks away from March 13 and Governor Murphy's Budget Address. The message Expand NJ's Pre-K NOW! has been consistently delivered and widely shared - before, during and since the inauguration and inaugural celebrations. Speaking of celebrations, the 26 pre-k expansion districts continue to celebrate pre-k expansion in their communities. But remember, the funding is for just this one year. To help spread the word of their success and need for continued funding, we have new stories and pictures to share from them! Finally, our Community Communication Meeting on March 22 is still accepting registrations, but the March 21 meeting is officially waitlisted. There are many people ready to Expand NJ's Pre-K NOW!
Governor Murphy believes our state "can't create a stronger tomorrow without making smart investments today." One of those investments is pre-k expansion for 50,000 kids - and for hundreds of communities across our state. Both the governor and his Commissioner of Education-designee, Dr. Lamont Repollet, say "education is pre-k to 12" and Governor Murphy "wants pre-k available to all as soon as possible." We agree with the governor: fully funding our schools means fully-funding pre-k. We also agree with 50,000 NJ kids, "Expand NJ's Pre-K NOW!"
January 2018 is the start of NOW...
As 2017 comes to a close, let's celebrate! At least one of the recent expansion communities held a winter concert, and we have pictures of those 60+ preschoolers to share. Pre-k expansion had the first funding in nearly a decade. A total of 26 communities received funding to provide access to nearly 2,000 children.
Working together, we've made pre-k a priority in New Jersey! Pre-k expansion was discussed and supported during the gubernatorial, legislative and local elections throughout Election 2017! As the final vote was cast on Tuesday night, we entered the next phase of Pre-K Our Way's Campaign for Pre-K Expansion: candidates won; now it's time for 50,000 kids to win! Let's congratulate the winners, and continue to congratulate and celebrate more of the 26 districts recently awarded state funding for pre-k expansion. 2018 - and the first budget of governor-elect Murphy - are just around the corner. We have lots more to do!
We're only part way through October, but there's already lots of news....with more to come in the next few weeks! Many of the 26 districts recently awarded pre-k expansion funding opened new classrooms - and celebrated - to mark the first pre-k expansion in nearly a decade. We have pictures and quotes from some of the pre-k expansion communities spread across NJ! While these few thousand preschoolers started school, Pre-K Our Way's Fall 2017 ad campaign moved closer to Election Day - and more expansion under a new governor in 2018. Unique videos highlighted individual benefits of NJ's pre-k - and the 50,000 3- and 4-year-olds still waiting across hundreds of communities. As a pre-Halloween treat, there's one more video to preview in ads next week....
The 2017 calendar is officially transitioning into Fall 2017, and some of New Jersey's 3- and 4-year-olds have reason for excitement. For the first time in nearly a decade, New Jersey is funding pre-k expansion ... but for only a few thousand children.
Also happening this Fall: Pre-K Our Way's Campaign for Pre-K Expansion returns for NJ's gubernatorial general election. Through November 7, we're featuring statewide advertising, social media placement, consistent messaging, and one call for action. Together, let's move the gubernatorial election discussions - and the next governor - to fund pre-k expansion in the first budget of a new administration in 2018. Let the candidates for governor know that you want pre-k - because 50,000 3- and 4-year-olds are still waiting!
Summer in NJ should mean at least a few lazy vacation days. That's why the banner with our message - Expand NJ Pre-K Now, 50,000 NJ Kids are Waiting - flies every weekend from Cape May to Sandy Hook! The $25 million for pre-k expansion in this year's state budget remains a reason to celebrate - but there's much more to do. Yes, it was the first funding in nearly a decade and an important initial step in the ultimate goal: funding in the first budget of a new governor in 2018. Next step: make that goal a reality! To make that happen, Pre-K Our Way is getting ready for September and beyond. Together, we need to keep pre-k expansion as a priority in our state, and have pre-k be part of the discussions throughout the upcoming elections for governor and legislature. After all, 50,000 NJ kids are waiting!
New Jersey celebrated Independence Day on July 4 - and also the first significant pre-k expansion funding in nearly a decade! Pre-k is on NJ's agenda and is a priority in Trenton. Pre-k expansion was included as part of the discussion on school funding! You did it - but there's more to do........
The 2017 General Election is officially underway, and support for pre-k expansion definitely is part of the
discussion! Throughout the coming months and into 2018, Pre-K Our Way's focus remains clear and unchanged: making pre-k expansion part of the gubernatorial and legislative election discussions, and having funding for it included in the first budget of the new governor in 2018.
Last week began the month of May, the traditional time every four years when New Jersey focuses on the upcoming gubernatorial election. The first debates are on May 9, with the Primary Election Day set for June 6. This year, pre-k expansion is part of the NJ gubernatorial discussion! Read this month's newsletter to learn about the upcoming election, our supporters, and new pre-k study and more.
Pre-K Our Way delivers on the promise of a robust Spring 2017! Targeted ads reached into hundreds of communities via cable TV and online sites, multiple Community Communication meetings attracted attendees from nearly every legislative district, testimony before State Senate and Assembly legislative committees shared the message that one of our highest priorities as a state should be the availability of quality pre-k programs for all of our children - and messaging across social media and numerous websites highlighted the community and county-speci c numbers of kids waiting each year for pre-k. Last but not least, two former governors joined in a Star-Ledger op-ed to ask the Legislature and Governor to address the need for high-quality preschool in New Jersey.
Spring is (almost) here! The burst of a new season saw the Governor and Legislature renewing focus on correction of some inequities in the existing state aid formula. Pre-K Our Way believes that there is no more important educational investment we can make than to expand our state's existing, successful, high-quality pre-k program to the 50,000 3- and 4-year-olds waiting every year—since 2008.
As this school year draws to a close, we are reminded of all the children who will be unable to access high-quality preschool in the fall simply because of where they live. This is unfair, and we need our legislators to know that expanding pre-k access in New Jersey should be a priority.
September wasn’t just time for the kids to go back to school—it was a busy month for NJ residents around the state ready to bring pre-k their way. Catch up on all the info in our monthly newsletter. Learn about our newest advocate organizations, read a recap on the 9/21 State Senate hearing and get tips for how to stay involved in the coming weeks.
What did Pre-K Our Way do this summer? Thanks to your support and support in many communities across New Jersey, you’re helping to expand pre-k for more kids in our state. In addition, we welcomed three different United Way organizations as new Advocates for Pre-K Our Way: United Way of Central Jersey, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and United Way of Hunterdon County.