Murphy seeks continued expansion of state pre-K program

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NORTH BRUNSWICK -

Gov. Phil Murphy says that he wants to see the state continue to expand on the number of school districts that offer free pre-K programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“These little kids probably don't know their lives are being changed. They don't understand it yet,” the governor said Thursday while visiting the Acelero Learning center in North Brunswick. “The payoff is overwhelming, the life-changing reality of this relatively…modest investment, changing lives unlike almost any dollar we can invest.”

Murphy’s state budget requests a $68 million expansion of the program. This would bring the total state grants for districts to offer free pre-K to more than $800 million.

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

Murphy also announced that the new director of the expansion program will be Cary Booker – older brother to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker. Cary Booker is currently the senior education policy advisor in the governor’s office. Cary Booker previously ran a charter school in Memphis and worked as associate dean of academic affairs at Rutgers University.

“This'll be our third year of pre-K expansion, and we need to make sure that the existing districts are continuing to do the high-quality work that they've been doing, and we continue to support the districts that are expanding,” Booker says.

Murphy says that the best way to expand the program is through “tax fairness so we can use the proceeds, in particular of the millionaires’ tax, to lift up every child and set them on a course for a strong future.”

Cary Booker starts work on July 1. His appointment was approved by the state Board of Education on Wednesday.

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