Imagine the state having a lot of money to spend. Well, California has almost $76 billion in surplus funds due to unprecedented growth in state tax revenues.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday what he called a transformative and historic investment in education that includes expanding transitional kindergarten to all 4-year-olds over a three-year period beginning in 2022.
Transitional kindergarten will provide an extra year of school for those students who missed the age cut-off to go to kindergarten. Transitional kindergarten teacher Joanne Ensign said it's ”A bridge between pre-school and kindergarten, not as rigorous as kindergarten, not as play-based as pre-school, but it’s a bridge between the two programs.”
Ensign said 4-year-olds need that extra year of readiness to handle kindergarten, which is now more academic.
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“If you throw a child in that who had none of the school readiness that they would have gotten, they have to do double time, they have to catch up socially and emotionally and tackle all of the rigorous academic tasks," she explained.
Parent Colindres said he is happy his 3-year-old daughter will have better access to high-quality early childhood education, not just for his daughter, but for his family.
“It’s been a challenge to us to try to balance work and home life,” he said. “Ideally, if we’re able to enroll my daughter in school earlier, we can take advantage of being able to progress in our careers.”
The governor wants to phase in transitional kindergarten over a three-year period beginning in 2022.
“We often talk about achievement gaps. It’s a readiness gap as much, or as more as it is an achievement gap. People aren’t left behind, they started behind," Newsom said.
The budget proposal also includes money for college savings accounts for students, teacher recruitment, and mental health services. The proposed budget plan will be presented to lawmakers Friday.