Focusing on ways to improve education and strengthen communities, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn delivered her 2012 State of the City address at City Hall on Thursday, February 9.
In her 6th annual address, Quinn outlined proposals ranging from securing homes for families to providing quality education for children to providing job opportunities for the unemployed to bolstering the five boroughs’ economic potential.
“Now more than ever, we need to tap into the power of our communities,” she said. “We need to restore the promise that everyone can succeed in New York, no matter how humble their origins, with a bit of help and a lot of hard work.”
Quinn said it would take a lot of hard work to help the city’s education system – but to achieve real success in schools, Quinn believes the key is to start young. To that end, Quinn proposed making kindergarten mandatory for all city 5 year olds. Currently, kindergarten is not required and Quinn said that many kids are missing out on critical early education.
“Every year nearly 3,000 5-year-olds in New York City don’t enroll in kindergarten,” she said. “That means thousands of kids enter first grade every year having never set foot in a classroom. Many of them are kids who need kindergarten the most. We’re working with the State Legislature to introduce a bill allowing New York City to make kindergarten mandatory.”
Quinn also touched on the college careers of city school children, calling for the creation of a tuition-free CUNY Honors College for the city’s top students. The proposed college will have a campus, facilities and programs allowing it to compete with the nation’s top institutions.
Beyond education, Quinn spoke about the need to secure healthcare for New Yorkers, announcing an initiative to improve worker health and reduce health care costs. Quinn said the City Council will provide $100,000 in funding to launch the Freelancers Union’s flagship Brooklyn health clinic.
“This kind of creative health care model has the power to connect more New Yorkers to primary care, take some of the burden off of struggling hospitals, and strengthen our non-profit healthcare system,” she said. “That’s how we make good on the promise of New York – by ensuring that every generation has greater opportunity than the ones that came before.”