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Newsom offers a transitional kindergarten in California

The transitional kindergarten, which is currently available to only about one-third of 4-year-olds in California, will be expanded to all by the 2024 school year on a proposal presented Wednesday by Gov. Gavin Newsum, part of a large-scale multi-year, multibillion-dollar commitment to education aimed at supporting the most needy students.

The governor said the emphasis on early education, adding a year of school up front, is appropriate given the experience of the youngest students.


7;s the difference in readiness – more than the difference in achievement,” Newsham said. “People don’t lag behind as often as they start from behind.”

The extended program for transitional kindergarten will come into force in the school year 2022-23 and will be phased in for more than three years.

Funded by an unprecedented rise in government tax revenues, the effort is one of a series of wide-ranging educational proposals that Newsom will send to the legislature over the weekend in its revised state budget. These plans include additional after-school and summer programs in low-income communities, $ 4 billion to support youth mental health, more than $ 3.3 billion to train teachers and school staff, and $ 3 billion to promote the development of ‘Municipal schools’, where education is integrated with health and mental health services in communities with high levels of poverty.

The state will also create a $ 500 college savings account for each student in California from a low-income family, with an additional $ 500 for foster youth and the homeless. The $ 2 billion program will be funded mostly by part of the state’s money from the US Rescue Plan, signed by President Biden in March. It is estimated that this could provide a savings account for about 3.8 million students in California.

The plan was enthusiastically welcomed by Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the State Board of Education and an ally of Newsom.

“This set of investments and reforms will catapult California forward and really allow us to rediscover the state school system in that state,” said Darling-Hammond, who also appeared at the event at Elkhorn Elementary School in North Monterey County. school area.

This school was chosen because it provides services for students and families from 6 am to 6 pm – a model, officials said, as provided in the governor’s proposal.

For school districts, the funding proposal is expected to lead to an unusual flood of state and federal resources, as teachers plan to recover from a forced campus closure forced by a pandemic.

Even without this proposed infusion, Los Angeles Unified, the state’s second-largest school system, has been considering a one-time grant of $ 5 billion since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Huge sums have already been spent on safety measures, technology and support for students and staff; huge sums remain to be spent.

But most of the pre-funding is one-time money, while Newsom’s proposal envisions a steady expansion of the state’s educational offerings and strategy. Its focus is on the recommendations of many experts, who note that the early start of academic and social development for young people is inaccessible to many, especially children from low-income families.

The pandemic has exacerbated such inequalities, they said. Moreover, many families simply keep young children out of kindergarten and preschool during the closure, instead of placing their children in front of a computer for school. .

“Universal TK is an incredible opportunity to build the social and emotional skills of young learners,” said Hannah Ma, a senior policy analyst at the Education Trust-West, an Auckland-based research and advocacy group. “Kindergarten enrollment has dropped dramatically in the last year, and the opportunity to offer a transitional kindergarten for all 4-year-olds is a way to engage families when their children are younger.”

Experts estimate that the program will serve nearly 300,000 children when it reaches its full capacity in 2024, adding a transitional kindergarten to virtually every state elementary school campus. As they are part of the local school districts, teachers in transitional kindergartens do almost the same as teachers in kindergartens and significantly more than preschool teachers who serve the same age group.

The introduction will start with children who turn 5 years old between September 2 and December 2, 2022. The target age will increase by several months each year during the school year 2024-25.

The gradually increasing eligibility will disappoint parents whose children are currently 4 years old and will not receive the benefit. Another issue will be the format of the program. The governor’s office said it provides up to nine hours a day of supervision, which will include three hours to develop academic skills.

The state’s poorest 4-year-olds now qualify for state preschool through a combination of a district-based transitional kindergarten, a state preschool, and a federally funded Head Start program. Yet tens of thousands still cannot find a place for those who risk losing it if their family’s income improves.

For Newsom, it was the third day in a row that he has traveled to California, outlining parts of his as-yet-unrepresented state budget, a spending plan he says benefits from unexpected tax revenues of $ 75.7 billion – more than half. from all municipal states finances expenditures during the fiscal year ending June 30. The governor announced plans for a $ 12 billion homelessness package and on Monday outlined an expansion of the program, offering $ 600 incentive checks for middle-class residents.

The unexpected revenue is roughly the face of last spring, when Newsom’s budget advisers expected the COVID-19 pandemic to throw government finances into serious deficits. These forecasts failed to materialize after high-income people in California paid record taxes on capital gains from stocks and other investments.

“You know, last year we faced a historical deficit, we couldn’t do what we wanted. But, boy, that’s not the case this year, “Newsom said at an event in Los Angeles on Tuesday to promote his plan to spend $ 1.5 billion on cleaning up public spaces and areas near state highways.

The cost of K-12 schools and California community colleges is governed by a series of formulas enshrined in the state’s constitution by voters, giving public schools the largest share of the general fund’s revenue. According to advisers, Newsom’s budget, projects guaranteeing school funding, will exceed estimates in its January spending plan by $ 17.7 billion – pushing education spending to a record $ 93.7 billion next fiscal year.

Newsom’s new education plan will use dollars it has to spend on education. He could simply redirect funds to local school systems – giving them a better idea of ​​how to spend the money. Instead, he decided to leave a mark by directing the use of that money.

The governor will officially reveal his full budget proposal on Friday, which will require the approval of the state legislature.

Providing a transitional kindergarten for all 4-year-olds will be expensive. In full implementation, Newsom advisers say the program will cost $ 2.7 billion a year.

The transitional kindergarten was established by the legislature in 2010 under a plan that tightens the rules for the date of birth for children aged 5 and entering kindergarten. Currently, only students who turn 5 between September 2 and December 2 are eligible for the state-funded program. Lawmakers have demanded that these rules be relaxed or removed altogether to give access to all 4-year-olds, with a proposal currently pending in the National Assembly.

In his remarks, the governor described his plan as presenting $ 20 billion in new investment in education, although some of that spending will cover several years and expand gradually, including dollars for pre- and post-school programs and enrichment activities during summer.

In response to the governor’s remarks, a coalition of parent groups called on the governor to focus primarily on returning to the state full-time, five days a week.

The governor insisted he shared that goal, although he failed to call for a mandate. On Wednesday, he suggested that a return to the university’s usual schedule could be codified in state law by June 30th.

His plan also calls for stable independent learning opportunities – possibly for parents who are not yet ready to return their children to campus in the fall.

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