Gov. Murphy wishes to see pre-K programs at all NJ schools

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Gov. Phil Murphy says that he would like to see all New Jersey school districts have a pre-K program within the next four years.

The governor toured John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Jamesburg Monday to see that school’s pre-K model.

In the program, children as young as 3 years old were making art and playing games. The children were also taking part in a Spanish immersion program, with the goal of having all students bilingual and bi-literate by the time they graduate the elementary school in fifth grade.

“This isn’t something that happens all of a sudden in fifth grade or eighth grade,” says Principal Pamela Hernandez. “It begins from birth.”

Murphy has pledged $57 million of his state budget toward preschool programs in low-income communities.

“It’s probably the smartest investment we can make. It’s a hard one to convince people because it pays off over decades, but that doesn’t make it less worthy,” Murphy said. “In fact, when you look at kids this age, it’s probably the most worthy investment we can make.”

Studies have shown that children who take pre-K programs are better prepared for kindergarten and that that benefit lasts throughout their school years.

“Once they get to kindergarten, we’re moving, moving, moving in order to get our kids ready for college and careers, and it starts early,” Hernandez says.

Murphy says that he hopes to pay for the education program through a proposed millionaire’s tax and increased sales tax. The legislature will need to approve Murphy's budget by June 30. Budget hearings are now underway.

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