NYC mayor announces plan for free preschool for 3-year-olds

FILE - In this Sept. 4, 2014, file photo, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, center, visit a pre-kindergarten class on at the Sacred Heart School in the Staten Island borough of New York on the first day for the city's public schools and the first day of the mayor's expansion of early childhood education. Free school for 4-year-olds was de Blasio's signature issue during his successful run for mayor in 2013. Facing re-election he has announced an ambitious plan to expand the effort to 3-year-olds. (Susan Watts/The Daily News via AP, Pool, File)

NEW YORK (AP) – Free preschool for 4-year-olds was a signature issue that helped New York City’s mayor win office in 2013.

Now up for re-election, he wants to add thousands of classroom seats for 3-year-olds, too.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initiative could eventually enroll up to 62,000 kids.

It would be among the largest public investments in preschool in the United States for children that young.

A few states, including Florida and Oklahoma, have universal, publicly funded pre-K for 4-year-olds, but such programs for 3-year-olds are more rare.

Education advocates said the plan announced last week by the Democratic de Blasio could be a national model if it succeeds.

The mayor’s critics say he should focus on improving existing schools before adding another year to public education in the city.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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