New Jersey tightening rules on free PreK

Misael Rivas is a skinny four-year-old with big eyes and a big personality that sometimes gets him in trouble at his preschool, the Eugenio Maria de Hostos Center in Union City, N.J. His favorite things are fire trucks, table saws, and, despite the occasional call home from his teacher about misbehavior, going to school.

So on the last day of pre-kindergarten this summer, his mother, Kilcenia Rondon, said he was heartbroken. “He’s a little troublemaker, but he kept saying ‘I miss my school, I’m lonely,’ ” said Rondon, a 23-year-old single mother who has a job in retail and is enrolled at a community college, working on her bachelor’s degree. When school is out, Misael stays with a neighbor or family member while she’s at work.

Fortunately for Misael, his summer vacation lasted only eight days before he was back again to attend the Hostos Center’s summer preschool program. The 90 children enrolled in the program, all ages 3-5, are not those who fell behind during the past school year but rather the children who are most likely to fall behind in the future. They are the poorest of the Hostos Center’s mostly poor student population – the students most likely to start first grade behind their peers.…Read More