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January 24, 2012 > Governor's proposals hurt kindergarten enrollment

Governor's proposals hurt kindergarten enrollment

Submitted By Deborah Schneider

In his just released 2012-13 budget proposal, Governor Jerry Brown called for kicking 125,000 kindergarteners out of California's public school system, denying one out of four kindergarten students access to public education. This proposal would mark the largest number of students ever removed from public school classrooms in U.S. history.

A coalition of California education leaders is working hand in hand with the state Legislature to block Governor Brown's proposal.

"This budget targets our kindergarteners and their families and is wholly unacceptable. Kicking 125,000 children out of kindergarten is a lose-lose-lose that will hurt kids and parents, and cost 5,000 teachers their jobs. Without this critical year of schooling, California's children will fall further behind, and parents who are expecting their children to enter school this fall will be forced to scramble for child care or stop working entirely - which families cannot afford. Denying 125,000 children access to early education, one of the highest returns of any public investment, is fundamentally and disastrously short-sighted," said Catherine Atkin, president of Preschool California.

The governor's proposal undermines the Kindergarten Readiness Act that was signed into law in 2010, changing the kindergarten entry date so that children enter kindergarten at age 5 and establishing transitional kindergarten, a developmentally appropriate grade to serve those younger students with birthdays between September and December. The vast coalition of education, business and civic leaders supporting the law has decried the governor's proposal as a bait-and-switch with disastrous consequences.

"The kindergarten reform legislation passed two years ago changed the kindergarten entry date and promised parents the option of having their children in a classroom setting that would meet their educational needs. The governor's proposal reneges on that promise and would be profoundly damaging to children, families and schools," said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools.

The governor's budget proposal also severely slashes publicly-funded preschool programs that already had long waiting lists due to previous cuts. This would cause many parents of the 125,000 children expecting to start kindergarten this fall to be unable to enroll their kids in preschool, thus forcing working families to bear the burden of private preschool, which at upwards of $15,000 a year is prohibitively expensive, or quit their jobs to stay home with their child.

Preschool California is a nonprofit advocacy organization working to increase access to high-quality early learning opportunities for all of California's children, starting with those who need it most. For more information, visit

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