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tv   Caucus New Jersey  PBS  December 2, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm EST

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at new jersey manufacturers insurance company we believe that all citizens need to be informed about the important issues that effect their daily lives. that's why we're proud to support programming produced by caucus educational corporation and their partners in public television. >>building blocks to lifelong learning next on caucus new jersey >>funding for this edition of caucus new jersey has been provided by the pnc foundation which supports early childhood education through grow up great a multiyear initiative to help prepare children from birth to age five for success in school and life the new jersey education association robert wood johnson university hospital the heart of academic medicine md advantage insurance company of new jersey choose new jersey our mission is attracting companies to the garden state cohn reznick accounting tax and advisory where forward thinking creates results and by adler aphasia center helping stroke and brain
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injury survivors recover their speech promotional support provided by new jersey monthly the magazine of the garden state available at newsstands and commerce magazine [music playing] [music playing] welcome to caucus new jersey i'm steve adubato far too many children enter school not prepared. clearly a strong foundation in early education plays a big role in success later in life. here to discuss the importance of early childhood education we have on our panel steven barnett director of the national institute for early education research at rutgers university kimberly baxter mclain president and ceo foundation for newark's future molly dunn executive director of preschool advantage and finally cecilia zalkind executive director of
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advocates for children of new jersey cecilia you were just telling us you've been with us many times over the years this is not your 30th anniversary at this great organization? >>[laughter] it is i started there while i was still in law school. >>well it is wonderful. by the way tell folks what that organization is and why it matters so much >>well advocates for children of new jersey is a state based child advocacy organization in newark and we look at many issues related to child well being including early education specifically preschool >>so let's start with you on this one. didn't new jersey pass a law in 2008? and what did that law say? and why are we still dealing with the fact that that law was supposed to deal with lots of children who weren't getting the pre-k they needed? >>well in 2008 the new jersey state legislature passed the school funding reform act which had a significant preschool expansion piece built on the high quality really nationally recognized preschool program we have in the 31 low income districts f the state. it works, it's been
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successful it serves all three and four year old children in those districts and the goal of the law was to extend that to about 90 more school districts and another 30,000 more kids >>so you... >>why hasn't is happened? >>woah woah woah hold on >>[laughter] >>new jersey has a model new jersey is a national model when it comes to pre-k? >>absolutely >>and so the legislature said let's take that model let's expand it beyond the 31 so-called abbot school districts those school districts are the ones that they were part of a court case a long standing court case that involved the lower income school districts if you will that said that every one of those children should get a thorough and efficient education as it was instated in the 1947 state constitution and what has happened? the funding did not come to provide those 90 or 100 school districts money for pre-k? is that what happened steve? >>that's what happened >>because the legislature said what? it's not important what? >>well the legislature said we've got a recession revenues
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are down. we don't have the money. >>is that true? >>well yes it's true it's also true that we spent a lot of money on a lot of other things including the problems we have because we don't send kids to preschool. >>what kind of problems happen when you don't send two kids to pre-k and you know this because your institute did research a study called the pple study we'll talk on it in a second, what happens to children who do not go to pre k? most of them? well a lot of them need special help. they need special education they fail grades and repeat the need for remedial services and all those things cost money year after year after year >>later on do they disproportionately wind up in trouble with the law? >>absolutely >>and when they disproportionately winds up in trouble with the law and could potentially incarcerated... how much more do they cost? >>well if you add up all the additional costs they're probably in the order of
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magnitude that is about ten times higher than the cost of providing them with good pre k to prevent those problems >>how bad is that policymaking let's not pay now because we can't afford it but we're gonna wind up paying later anyway how much sense does that make? >>not a whole lot. >>why do you think that happens? >>i think people have short term priorities instead of taking the long term focus we know that if you invest in pre k early on then as steve said the investment will be a lot lowered down the road >>talk about your organization >>my organization is the foundation for newark's future we're established in 2010 to really try to improve educational outcomes for students in the city of newark we have three priorities the k-12 system district in charter >>right >>early childhood education including pre k as well as community development >>let's talk about those kids in newark i mean your organization focuses on >>morris >>morris county let's talk about newark kids. for kids who
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do not qualify i mean say every child deserves the right with the opportunity to go to pre k, what percentage of newark kids are actually going to pre k? >>i don't know the exact percentage but we know that they're empty slots they're empty seats meaning that there are kids in newark who are eligible for free pre k seats who were not there >>how does that happen? >>i think there are a variety of reasons for that. there's you know lack of information at the parent level, there's lack of coordination at the system level there's lack of communication and awareness >i mean it's striking on the one hand you've got in your situation you provide scholarships to families of three and four year olds >>right >>who qualify and i believe what is it $30,000? >>we i mean we are a private organization so we have no fixed rolls but our typical family is around $35,000 is what they would be earning for a family of four >>so of the 20 or 21 thousand
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three and four year olds who benefit from what you do how many more... let's talk about how many you can't help >>we are reaching a fraction a fraction and in morris county there is no... there's no... we're not an abbot school district so our... the school systems do not provide the pre k at all except in a few it's growing a little but it's coming in but it's not free it's a sliding scale that they have to pay and many of the families can't afford to do that so in morris county basically the situation is if you don't qualify the level of the head start type of programs >>well the federal government determines that >>yeah the federal government programs and they're it's a woefully low income level there is... there are then only certain specific programs that people can go to otherwise there's nothing for them and we have... that's our role is to step in and fill that gap unless... until... the
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government in this state is willing to step up and do something for these families we see that as our role and we would love to go out of business because that would be >>you'd love to go out of business cause the need wouldn't be there >>that would... the need, no but >>but you know what's interesting? we had a sit down with steve talking about this and he said something that i want everyone to be able to comment on, i asked him what we were talking about the fact that the legislature and the state government has not provided the dollars to fund e 2008 initiative to expand this national model the new jersey model this great pre k program that everyone says hey it's really terriffic new jersey national model we should do this and a whole range of other districts outside of the 31 some of the poorest the abbot district so the ring around those the next poorest if you will the response was the money wasn't there so i said to you in the interview well who is the champion in the state government who is the
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champion under the gold dome the capitol, for the children who are three and four years three and four year olds and you said there isn't one and you're shaking your head as i look at you, is that true cel? yes we have certainly talked to legislators on both sides of the aisle about the importance of preschoolers there's a lot of support for preschool but there's no one who's stepped up and said this is my top issue and i'm going to make this happen >>what happens when there is no... and by the way what steve also said in that interview because your organization while rutgers is a state university the state university proud to be an alumn and barely got out but that's >>[laughter] another story. rutgers in new jersey but yor institute doing work across the country steve said in a whole range of states there are legislators governors others who are champions whose champion early childhood education that is their issue but in new jersey there is no one who says this is my issue, correct? did i
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mischaracterize? >>yeah that's exactly right there's states right now in governor's races candidates are competing on both sides >>[laughter] for who has the best preschool expansion proposal >>no way >>florida, texas, georgia just three examples >>but wait a minute. if new jersey is the state where they say you have this wonderful pre k program which is a national model but we have no one who isn't making it n issue their issue doesn't that seem... you're making a face on this... >>no i'm just thinking >>seems not to make sense >>it doesn't >>that's confusing to me why do you think that is cel? >>because it's true [laughter] i think... >>but why... there's got to be a reason for this? >>well i think part of the reason >>is there no constituency? >>no i think part of the reason is that we have the high quality pre-school that we have that serves 50,000 children because of a supreme court decision in new jersey >>let's make clear what you're saying the supreme court... >>we're talking about abbot vs burke >>okay so the supreme court said that whether you like it
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or not state legislature whether you whoever the governor is at the time whether you like it or not you will provide the dollars through an income tax largely right? for these 31 school districts and they will get pre k? >>yes >>whether you like it or not? >>yes >>but then that was only those 31 districts? and then when the legislature said in 2008 what about the next ring of 90-100 the court didn't say you had to do that. therefore my logic tells me you just said that the supreme court in your opinion is the only potential champion for three and four year olds >>no i think that's how our program got started they were the champion and i think what happened is that the legislature stepped up to support but not to champion so when the cool... >>what's the difference? >>well it's a big difference cause you have no one there who's saying this is my top issue this is what i'm gonna bargain for this is what i'm
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gonna look for money for >>fight for? >i'm gonna fight for and i think the timing as steve pointed out when the law passed we had a year of planning by these districts it was very exciting they were very engaged wanted to do it and then the recession hit. and we've not recovered and we've not regained ground to step up nd say okay we're doing a little better as a state this is the top of our list >>go ahead >>well we need a champion we need someone who will step up from the business community from the faith community labor business together >>okay >>if not from the legislature the governor's office >>do you see parents stepping up in a grassroots movement saying these are our kids? do you see that? i think that will happen i think when once we make the case right now people look at pre k as an economic argument that's why the ring around is not funded because people look at it and there's a lot of
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resentment once you make the case... >>woah resentment about what? >>about the fact that there are 31 districts that have free services and the rest of the districts around the state do not and that cost is being born by all of us but once we take out the economic argument and look at it from a practical standpoint there are academic benefits to pre k that's obvious. there's social emotional benefits to pre k and as steve said we don't make the investment now, we're gonna spend ten times as much later we have to make the case politicians follow their constituents once the constituents make it an issue politicians will step up >>but it's a question of which constituents because urban constituents disproportionately the ones in the districts you're talking about...? to some extent but there... new jersey does have some very poor rural communities in south jersey yes the urban districts get the attention paterson jersey city newark but there are low income
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districts in south jersey as well a lot of them are in this next tier of districts >>but listen to what was just said that there's resentment see... we had this conversation in the one on one interview that we did together i asked you in morris county which is a very diverse county in the sense that it's very wealthy but it's also very poor right? >>yes >>so you help a family your organization a private not for profit... helps a family send a three or a four year old to pre k so that three and four year old now is in a class with a wealthy kid and i said what what other kid the rich kids like with the kids who aren't so rich and you said they're kids they're fine so i said and you also said that's one of the reasons why the people who founded the organization who were wealthy parents who were able to do that for their kids one of the reasons they did it right? >>right >what is also being said here is that there's resentment on the part of some in the state who are saying what are you... what is the state doing taking some of my money
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and sending it to some of these poor districts that those kids can go to pre k. does that make sense to you? >>yeah i don't see with our funders i don't hear resentment they have just stepped up in their community and said until someone else does this we are going to look after your kids and >>but your money is all private? >>but our money is all private but i have heard this from the public school systems in our area >>sure >>who are very frustrated that what they are being asked to do for their kids with no funding and they're being judged on their achievements with no funding while all the money is going elsewhere that's certainly right there >>but you know what i'm also earing here? that if it's public money taxpayer money it's one thing if it's private money it's another thing. so if you can do t privately go for it. if you're gonna do it with my tax dollars it's a totally different story correct steve? >>well actually i think the politicians and some of the
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school people are not keeping up with the public >>what do you mean? >>because if you look at polling data... the polls are very positive >>about pre k? >>about pre k and about using >>what do they say? >>public dollars that this is one of the top priorities sometimes it comes out as the top priority the early years and that we're not spending enough public money on it i think where it breaks down and it becomes divisive is where lots of it goes to some districts and none of it goes to other districts >>got it >>right >>as opposed to it's for all our children >>right >>talk about the apple study >>well the apple study... >>done by you and your colleagues at rutgers >>done by our colleagues at rutgers with the support of foundations and the new jersey department of education you till look at... so how effective is this preschool program? >>sure >>how effective are all those dollars we're spending in the abbot district starting at three and the answer is very
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effective. right so kids... >>be specific >>kids are doing better when they start kindergarten right off the bat a lot better and they're less likely to repeat kindergarten even they're doing better at second grade and when they hit the standardized tests that everybody takes at grades four and five they do better across the board language arts literacy math and science and not just a little better if they've had two years we're closing a lot of the chief mechanics... >>two years of pre k? >>two years of pre k starting at three they've closed a lot of the achievement gap at 5th grade most of it >>saving money? >>saving money >>it's a smart investmment a good investment you know cel knows this because we live in the same community we have a wonderful pre k program it's actually called the montclair pre k right? >>yes >>and what fascinates me about it is that it used to have more public funding right? if i'm wrong about any of this >>no you're absolutely right >>i know you know it well. you used to have more public
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funding. and all of our children have gone through it. our daughter right now is going through it olivia's going through it right now and so as it lost some of the public funding and they still want to take... have give every kid an opportunity even those who couldn't afford it the opportunity they had they started a sliding scale but then what they did was... it's now more and more privately funded right? >>sure >>they started to go to parents who they felt had the means and said look we want you to sponsor another kid. in fact a lot of the other kids who an't afford it are going to this re k a because there's a sliding scale for tuition and b because other families are sponsoring that. i think that's great and i turn around and say yeah but t's only because a the people in that organization went to do that and b because the means are in the community. that can't happen in every community? >>no >>am i correct? >>correct >>and so what happens when that can't happen? i mean it happens in a montclair because
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there are people with means and there are people who want to do that. what happens when it can't happen? cause it can't happen in a newark? >>right. i think we give back to the concept of share responsibility. i think a public private partneship so certainly the public sector has to contribute. we should also look at philanthropy foundations such as mine to supplement where we can we have to look at other community resources the business sector et cetera i think we all have to bear responsibility that all of our children deserve a high quality pre k experience >>say someone says that's not y kid. i was thinking about this someone says listen particularly after 2008 economy's tough employment situation's rough out there i'm barely keeping my situation together in my family you want me to worry about somebody else's kid? you gotta be kidding me. what would you say? it's not just about the kid it's about the community this is ultimately a community issue if these kids start to fail as steve talks about then you start to get all these
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ramifications of the... what happens you know only the economic cost but the cost to the community you know if these kids end up being incarcerated they get in trouble they end up i mean it's your community it's the community they all live in and you can't lock up your doors and say it's not my kids it's not my problem i think it's a community responsibility and whether the money comes privately from the public sector or a combination of both i mean they're getting their pieces together it's gotta be... you've gotta deal with it you can't just be ignored >>yeah. go back to the newark thing... you said some seats i mean there's great demand and i know in montclair there's great demand and there are not even enough slots at the pre k for the demand that exists for the kids who need it. but what's still bothering me and i'm sure other people watching us on public broadcasting are thinking about it as well is you said there are slots seats that are going unfilled. what does that
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say about the parents who are not doing what needs to be done to put their kid in pre k? >>i don't think it says anything about the parents i think what it speaks to is a lack of awareness. we know a lot of parents... >>well who's job is it to be aware? >>it... >>ultimately it's the parent's responsibility... >>it's all of our responsibility because again if we don't make the investment on the front end we're all gonna bear the costs on the back end. so it's not that parents don't care it's not that they're not concerned sometimes they don't information they don't have access to resources one of the things we're working on in our foundation is putting together a directory and a mobile app that provides parents a list of all resources that are available to them including how to access pre k and what to do with it >>devil's advocate where is a place respectfully where is a place for parental accountability in what you just described because what i just heard was you can't in any way blame parents. but you have to hold them accountable and unless i misinterpreted hat you just said is they're not accountable t's not a blame game. i think...
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>>what's accountability then >>i think we all have accountability >>where is the parents' accountability? >>the parents the community it's all of us it's not enough for you know people in suburban or other communities to simply point fingers and say what other parents should do we all have the responsibility >>your thought about that? >well i agree. i agree with kim. i think you know we live and breathe pre school >>yup >>but families and communities may not you know because it's but if they're... it's someone's kid >>yes but if you're not aware that this exists in your community >>you mean the opportunity? >>yes >>right >>and it exists for free you know we do some community presentations in newark and some of the other low income districts and it's always a surprise to us that people have never heard of abbot vs burke and >>they may remember the court case >>and they may not know the preschool is available. it's not a one shot deal. and for some parents you know we do the newark kids count... we look at data around families in newark you have families that are really struggling single parent households
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>>we should make it clear that u do a... every year you do a... you and your organization do a wonderful job assessing the condition of kids as it relates to several key factors i'm sorry go ahead >>yes and we do a special one for newark. i think you... >>you do statewide and newark? >>and newark and you have a lot of families who are under stress, you have a lot of families who are isolated so those kind of networks those community and family networks that we take for granted that are a source of information may not exist through these families. it is a responsibility of the district the community childcare programs head start to do that kind of outreach and also parents need to know how important it is you know when preschool started in new jersey that was a bigger issue >>sure >>i think many more people are on board with how important preschool is but there are still some parents who need to know why this is important for their kids >>and you're convinced if they knew they would take advantage? >i believe so. i think all of us all parents want what's best for their children and if there is a resource out there that's
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proven that is gonna ensure that their kids are gonna start on a level playing field and be able to succeed... yes i believe all parents would take advantage of it >>especially if it's free >>absolutely >>especially and then in the couple minutes we have left with the legislature not stepping up well put it this way with the money not being in place... with the number of kids who still are not getting access to quality prek what are the reasons to continue to be hopeful and positive here? >>well from where i sit it's very much when you tell the ory people get it. it's a simple story it's a very simple story and it just needs to get told and we need to get it to the right people. the story's there the data's there steve's work's wonderful it's all right there >>it's a no brainer >>it's absolutely and that's why we can function as a totally private organization and we go out and tell the story and people fund this. so i think that's why we should be optimistic i think there's still work to be done and i want to just... this thing about... >>a few seconds go ahead
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>>yeah the families many of them come from communities and from cultures >>that's right >>they've never heard of preschool >>and language is an issue right >>right >and it doesn't... it's not even on that agenda so they... there is a real educational thing for them to understand why that is so important for their education >>and we can't make certain assumptions that... because that's the way we think everyone thinks that way >>right >>so listen i can not thank all of you enough for joining us and talking about this and we can say that our kids are our most precious resource because it sounds good but all of you live it every single day and our kids are better off or it so i want to thank you all for being with us >>the preceding program has been a production of the caucus educational corporation celebrating over 25 years of broadcast excellence and thirteen for wnet njtv and whyy funding for this edition of caucus new jersey has been provided by the pnc foundation the new jersey education association robert wood johnson university hospital
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md advantage choose new jersey cohn reznick and by adler aphasia center transportation provided by air brook limousine serving the metropolitan new york new jersey area caucus new jersey has been produced in partnership with tristar studios >>hi i'm governor tom kean a dear friend of mine had aphasia which is a language disorder that occurs from a brain injury or a stroke it robs a person's ability to communicate but it doesn't effect their intellect. programs and services offered at the adler aphasia center help to improve my friend's communication skills as well as his self confidence and quality of life. most importantly he was among people who understood him if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with aphasia there is hope... closed captioning provided by aciem studios
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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: a new blow to syrian refugees scarred by war and facing starvation, as the united nations makes drastic cuts to food aid. >> every month we feed 4 million people inside syria, in addition to approximately 2 million refugees in neighboring countries, and in order to resume the operation for the refugees, we need $64 million immediately. >> ifill: good evening, i'm gwen ifill. judy woodruff is away. also ahead this tuesday: the darker side of professional sports. lawmakers look at how the big leagues tackle domestic violence. plus, in philadelphia, as charter schools become more


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