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March 20, 2012 > Parents, educators and advocates rally support for transitional kindergarten

Parents, educators and advocates rally support for transitional kindergarten

Submitted By Jennifer Kern

At the March 1 Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Full Committee Hearing, California state legislators voiced their opposition to Gov. Brown's budget proposal to eliminate transitional kindergarten and thus deny up to 125,000 children the right to attend public school, citing the detrimental impact it would have on the state's youngest students.

"The Administration's budget proposal is a hit to K-12 education at the expense of four year olds and their families. The notion that a quarter of a million parents and their 125,000 children could no longer be eligible to begin school in the fall is a non-starter," declared State Senator Joseph Simitian (D-Palo Alto).

Parents, educators and advocates joined legislators at the State Capitol to voice their strong support for transitional kindergarten as part of the "March Mobilization to Save Kindergarten" - a statewide initiative led by the Save Kindergarten Coalition to sound a warning bell about the unprecedented number of students who could be denied access to public education this fall if the governor's budget proposal is adopted.

As part of March Mobilization to Save Kindergarten activities, Assemblymember Susan Bonilla will convene a Select Committee hearing with Contra Costa County school district leaders on the importance of following the Kindergarten Readiness Act and moving forward with full implementation of transitional kindergarten in accordance with California state law.

"The Administration's budget proposal would deny 125,000 of our youngest school children their right to attend kindergarten. This proposal is ill-advised and should be rejected as too detrimental to California's families," said Assemblymember Susan Bonilla (D-Concord).

"My support for moving the birthday back for entry into kindergarten was contingent on the establishment of transitional kindergarten. Research clearly shows that children who attend high-quality early care and education programs are less likely to be held back in school, need remedial classes or drop out of school. This budget proposal would revoke that provision, subvert the intention of the legislation and jeopardize childrens' success in school," said Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), Chairwoman of the California State Assembly Committee on Education.

While the governor's proposal has created confusion throughout the state, more than 100 school districts and counting are moving ahead with transitional kindergarten in the fall. A map of California school districts that are implementing transitional kindergarten is available at: http://www.preschoolcalifornia.org/resources/resource-files/california-school-districts.pdf.

Education advocates noted that the governor's proposal would create widespread inequity - with a child in one neighborhood having access to transitional kindergarten, while another child in another neighborhood would not - and further widen the achievement gap and erode equal opportunity for success in school.

"Losing publicly funded transitional kindergarten will disproportionally affect low income and minority students and will only worsen the achievement gap. That's why the governor's proposed changes are so upsetting. Research shows that kids who participate in early childhood education programs do better in school, are less likely to get into trouble with the law, and are more successful professionally," said Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas).

"Delaying a kindergarten education to 125,000 children adds an undue burden to families who are already amidst a major financial crisis. This is clearly an injustice to children and families throughout the state and may cause irreparable damage to our most vulnerable communities," said Assemblymember Ricardo Lara (D - Bell Gardens).

The Save Kindergarten Coalition of school districts, superintendents, educators, parents, business and civic leaders and child advocates rejects the governor's proposal and is urging the California state legislature and governor to follow the Kindergarten Readiness Act that established transitional kindergarten and remains California state law. Learn more about the Save Kindergarten Campaign at: www.preschoolcalifornia.org/savekindergarten.

Fully implementing transitional kindergarten is in accordance with The Kindergarten Readiness Act - the California law that changed the kindergarten entry date so that children enter school at age five and establishing transitional kindergarten, a developmentally-appropriate grade to serve those younger students with birthdays between September and December. The governor's budget proposal is at odds with The Kindergarten Readiness Act, which remains the law and could impact one out of four kindergarten-aged students.

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