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Equity and institutions: Distributing preschool quality in New York City

The shutdown of child care and preschools will likely worsen gaps in children's early learning, just as the nation revisits racial disparities that persist in public institutions. Can robust pre-k programs – such as New York City's ambitious initiative – mitigate against inequities in child development? Or, do preschools display unfair variation in quality tied to the racial or economic features of neighborhoods? This report maps differing levels of quality observed among 1,610 pre-k sites with complete data over the 2016-2018 period. We find that preschools situated in economically secure neighborhoods or enrolling smaller shares of Black children host higher quality classrooms and teaching practices. Elements of one quality measure deployed by city monitors reveal these disparities, along with uneven learning activities gauged by a second yardstick of classroom quality. One-third of all children attend severely segregated pre-k sites. Programs hosted by city schools display lower quality than sites operated by community organizations. We discuss how to mitigate against forces that regressively distort well-intentioned entitlements like universal preschool. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States
New York

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