School administrators' perceptions of the issues that influence decisions regarding education and/or child care programs for 4-year-olds in central New York

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Diane J. Sawyer


Four-year-old, Preschool children, Prekindergarten programs, New York State

Subject Categories



Education and care of the 4-year-old has become a prominent societal concern during the past decade. More women have joined the labor force and returned after bearing children. Secondly, many married couples perceive the need for two incomes to maintain a "decent standard of living." Additionally, single-parent households have continually increased with the one parent seeking employment. Because of these societal trends, child care for preschool children has gained national as well as state attention.

Governor Cuomo has proposed Universal 4-year-old prekindergarten programs for New York State. This new population would have a significant impact on the public schools. Therefore, this qualitative study was designed in order to gather descriptive data from the perspective of the school administrators in Central New York because they would be responsible for developing, planning, and implementing these programs in their local districts.

From the total pool of school administrators, a purposive sample of thirteen decision makers were selected to provide diversity in terms of size and type of district; four currently participating in prekindergarten programs, and eight who do not. One administrator had participated in the Syracuse prekindergarten program but has since taken a position with the State Education Department. The open-ended interview guide allowed indepth conversations that provided rich, descriptive data. Audio-taped interviews were transcribed and analyzed to determine the administrators' perspectives.

The results indicate that the school administrators perceive prekindergarten disadvantaged programs have the potential to impact positively on the child, the district and the family. These early intervention programs were viewed as being cost efficient in terms of breaking the cycle of poverty and in enhancing greater socio-economic success and social responsibility for prekindergarten participants. The respondents wanted input at the local level so that programs could be tailored to meet their unique needs. Factors related to implementation were discussed such as: space and facilities, transportation, related support services, early childhood staffing, and funding. Decisions regarding curriculum and parent involvement were also discussed.


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