Clinton, NYC mayor launch campaign to encourage Hispanic parents to read, sing to their kids

The Associated Press

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2014, file photo, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in New Orleans. Clinton is helping initiate a public service campaign encouraging Hispanic families to read, sing and talk more to their young children so they’re better prepared for school. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

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Pascuala Natalia Leal, a 25-year-old mother of three who immigrated from Mexico as a girl, said she thinks some low-income parents feel inadequate to teach the kids. At the same time, she said, families she knows can't get their children into Head Start programs because of long waiting lists or travel long distances each day so their children can participate.

"There's a lot of lack of information for families and parents," said Leal, whose daughter attends the Head Start in East Harlem.

A large percentage of U.S. children don't have access to pre-school. President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union, renewed his call for universal access to pre-K.

De Blasio wants to enact a tax increase on wealthy New York residents to pay for universal prekindergarten and has named a deputy mayor whose top priority is the pre-K program.

"Strike while the iron is hot," de Blasio said of the years when young children absorb knowledge "like sponges."

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Hefling reported from Washington.

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