Early education is a wonderful thing. It provides lifelong benefits to young kids in terms of language, literacy and math skills. It’s a time for kids to play and form friendships from a young age and it helps parents get much-needed support in terms of day care and friends. It’s time that Cambridge provides this for every child – it’s time that we enact universal pre-K. 

At this moment, the city has a patchwork of options and a complex lottery system that leaves children behind. There are several issues. 

  • There are only enough spots for 50 percent of applicants, and so many children are left behind and can’t attend pre-K. 
  • The lottery is complex and leaves many parents confused as to when to apply and when they’ll hear the results.
  • The results come back so late that parents have already felt compelled to enroll in a private option.

It’s time we fixed these issues and provided universal access to everyone. No more lotteries. We’ve been very slowly inching toward it, but there’s no reason for us to meander. We have the means and structure in place; all we need is the will and focus to implement it. 

And now is the moment to muster that will. The pandemic has touched every one of our lives, but it has been especially hard on some, including the parents of young children. These are the kids least likely to benefit from digital learning and the parents who’ve had to live without day care or support during the lockdown. These are the parents – and women in particular – who have made the difficult decision to step back from their careers to care for their children. We owe it to these kids and their parents to provide pre-K for every single child. 

Burhan Azeem, candidate for City Council

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