Democracy for NYC (DFNYC) is committed to the ideals espoused by Democracy for America, the organization founded by Howard Dean, and the national network of local coalition groups dedicated to the same.
We work both locally and nationally to ensure that fiscally responsible and socially progressive candidates are elected at all levels of government. We develop innovative ways to advocate for the issues that matter to our members and support legislation which has a positive effect in our communities. We promote transparency and ethical practices in government. We engage people in the political process and give them the tools to organize, communicate, mobilize, and enact change on the local, state, and national level.
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Why DFNYC Supports UPKNYC - Feedback from our members
In a newsletter we sent in January 2014, we asked our members if DFNYC should sign on to the UPKNYC campaign, the movement to fund full-day pre-K in NYC with a marginal tax increase on incomes over $500K per year. We knew many members of DFNYC supported this, but we wanted to formally ask for opinions in a newsletter.
We heard from many of you and the overwhelming majority of the messages were enthusiastically in favor, so we have joined the coalition. For those that disagree or raised concerns, we wanted to make a few points here.
Media's Cuomo vs. de Blasio Narrative:
Many news articles about universal Pre-K have framed the UPK debate as a battle between Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio. It may appear as if they are both offering the same thing, with the only difference being that the Mayor wants to raise taxes and the Governor does not. However, Gov. Cuomo's plan allocates an amount of money over 5 years that is a fraction of the cost of providing quality Pre-K in NYC, let alone the state. Also, if NYC's Pre-K funding comes from the state, it will be subjected to the yearly budget process in Albany, which makes it nearly impossible for providers and teachers to make plans and run their schools effectively. We have admired Gov. Cuomo's decisions and policies on several issues, but in the area of UPK for NYC, we think a dedicated funding stream from a specific tax makes more sense. (To be clear, the UPKNYC coalition is independent and not part of the mayor's office.)
The universal Pre-K debate naturally brings up the tax debate. The concern was raised that increasing taxes on people at the higher end of the income scale is unfairly punishing those who work hard. To be clear, we do not support progressive taxation to punish, but rather because it is the fairest and most sustainable way to pay for universal Pre-K, a valuable public service. It is an extremely small increase: ½ a percentage point on the amount of income over $500K.
Research Shows Quality Pre-K works:
The point was raised that Pre-K may not be the best way to tackle problems in the education system, particularly because of studies showing Head Start had limited success. However, the recent research shows that quality Pre-K programs do have positive long term effects. Click here for an explanation from the National Institute for Early Education Research (pdf).