by email from Preschool California
by Catherine Atkin, President, Preschool California
Tuesday, July 31, 2012 :: This summer, legislators made important decisions for early learning in the budget.
Gov. Brown signed off on the state budget, which includes $140 million in cuts to child development.
These were deep and harmful cuts, and program operators across California are making difficult decisions about how to implement these reductions. However, children’s advocates and policymakers should know that their hard work and dedication in the past months to minimize the $517 million in cuts originally proposed in January have made a great difference for California’s young children.
The state budget shifts $165 million of state preschool funds back into Prop 98, cuts part-day preschool by $30 million and institutes parent fees on part-day preschool to raise $20 million. It also redirects $80 million of funds from First 5 California and cuts non-98 child care and development programs by 8.7% across the board. Additionally, it rejects both the restructuring of child care and development and the elimination of transitional kindergarten.
As we head into the fall, there is great fiscal uncertainty. Without additional revenue, programs serving California’s children and families, including child development programs, may be subject to additional cuts. It's been a difficult budget year, and now it's time to rest up before we get ready for more advocacy on behalf of California's children!
Transitional kindergarten saved, new website on TK launches.
With the Kindergarten Readiness Act intact under the state budget, and schools set to receive full funding, districts around the state continue to roll out TK. Preschool California is supporting TK teachers and administrators by launching the revamped and expanded TKCalifornia.org website with a wealth of practical information, resources and sample teaching strategies, which were created and reviewed by education experts across the state.
Federal early ed services could face substantial across-the-board cut.
Early learning programs across the nation could see major funding decreases in January if Congress fails to avoid a potential automatic across-the-board cut with a spending plan that reduces the $1.2 trillion national deficit. In California alone: almost 12,000 fewer children would have access to Head Start; about 5,000 fewer children would receive child care subsidies; and about 296,000 fewer students would be served under Title I grants, amongst other cuts. Read Sen. Tom Harkin’s report, Under Threat, for more specific national and state-by-state data.
AB 1853 headed to the Senate floor.
AB 1853 (Bonilla), a transitional kindergarten teacher training bill, is headed to the Senate floor. The “TK recognition of study” offered by AB 1853 would ensure that our teachers are prepared to instruct TK, resulting in successful child outcomes in kindergarten and beyond. Recently, California Teachers Association (CTA), Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), California School Boards Association (CSBA) and Bay Area Council joined the growing list of supporters. Click here for more AB 1853 information.
The CA Comprehensive Early Learning Plan (CCELP) is under way.
The California Department of Education has contracted with the San Mateo County Office of Education to develop a CCELP for progress in key areas of early childhood education. The CCELP will assess California’s services to children and families, establish a vision for the state’s early learning system for the next five to 10 years and outline an implementation plan to meet the CCELP goals. For more on the background, purpose and implementation click here.
New bill (S. 3436) would improve quality of infant and toddler care.
Recently, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and cosponsors Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced S. 3436, which recognizes that high-quality childcare can reduce the risk of low-income children falling behind and offer them crucial benefits. Under the bill, states would collect funding to form a strategic plan to improve the quality of early care using approaches such as creating networks of specialists for hands-on training and including infant and toddler needs in quality improvement systems. You can read more sample approaches and urge your Senators to support S. 3436 at ZEROTOTHREE.org.
KIDS COUNT 2012 report ranks CA as 41st in nation in child well-being
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, partnering with Children Now in California, released its annual Kids Count report last week, which reveals the overall well-being of California’s children to be 41st out of 50 states. This year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation focused more on education and economic indicators, causing California to drop from last year’s 16th place. While this year’s low ranking is disconcerting, California did show improvements in 10 out of the 16 categories considered for child well-being, and scored well in child health. Find more details from EdSource Today and read the report here.
A successful Early Learning Advocacy Day 2012.
Last month, California Association for the Education of Young Children, the California Child Development Administrators Association and Professional Assocation for Childhood Education co-sponsored this year’s Early Learning Advocacy Day for parents and children’s advocates to share their support for California’s youngest children. Advocates from across the state met with legislators, spoke with other early learning supporters and celebrated early childhood education.
Children's Defense Fund national conference gathers leaders in eudcation, research and policy.
Last week, the Children’s Defense Fund held its national conference in Ohio, convening 3,000 educators, researchers, policymakers, child advocates and faith leaders to discuss practices that create real change for the benefit of our children. In a video address to the conference, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke underscored the importance of high-quality early learning in creating opportunities for children to become successful learners and members of a productive workforce in the future.
LAUSD holds rally opposing cuts to early education.
Last month, Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Bennett Kayser, parents, teachers and children’s advocates, including team members from Preschool California, gathered in Eagle Rock to protest cuts to vital early education programs. “Research shows that the first years are the most critical in closing achievement gaps, identifying and minimizing difficulties, and preparing for a lifetime of learning,” Kayser said. Highlighting the need for early learning funding, our own State Field Director Ernesto Saldaña noted, "The child that starts behind, stays behind. Our state can no longer afford to stay behind." Read a related article here.
In Memory of Wendy
Last month, the early education world lost a dear friend and a great leader in Wendy Wayne, who passed away at the age of 64. With her involvement in numerous children’s organizations up and down the state, Wendy has touched the lives of many children and colleagues in the field. Her passion for children and early education has inspired our own team in striving for high-quality early learning. We will remember her work, her commitment to children and her spirit.
In the Media...
EdSource Today: State Board tells districts Transitional Kindergarten is a must.
Huffington Post: Critical Investment Advice from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke
Ventura County Star: Early Education programs are key to local economy's success, experts say.
Education Week: Study: Michigan Pre-K Program Helps Promote On-Time Graduation
Education Week: Transitional Kindergarten Survives Budget Battle in Calif.
Bakersfield Voice: Transitional Kindergarten