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February 17, 2012 > California Superintendents call for Transitional Kindergarten

California Superintendents call for Transitional Kindergarten

Submitted By Jennifer Kern

The Small School District Association recently joined the superintendents of large school districts across California in voicing their opposition to Gov. Brown's budget proposal to eliminate transitional kindergarten, which would bar 125,000 children from public school classrooms.

Representing superintendents from over 500 small and mid-sized districts, the Small School District Association expressed its strong support for the full implementation of transitional kindergarten and opposition to the budget proposal to deny 125,000 of California's youngest students access to public education.

"We call on the Governor and the California legislature to swiftly reject this proposal and restore the clarity that our more than 500 district members need to move forward with full implementation of transitional kindergarten and best serve our students," said David Walrath, the Small School District Association's legislative advocate.

A growing chorus of school superintendents across California is vigorously advocating for full implementation of transitional kindergarten this fall.

"We've been delighted with the results of our transitional kindergarten pilot program over the past five years and have seen firsthand the tremendous benefits of giving our youngest students a smart start. Our students are making dramatic progress, especially in language and literacy, and graduates are entering kindergarten with the confidence and love of learning that will follow them throughout their academic careers," said Christopher J. Steinhauser, Superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District, which is moving forward with fully implementing transitional kindergarten. "Anyone who cares about public education should urge the California legislature to support full implementation of transitional kindergarten."

Jonathan P. Raymond, Superintendent of Sacramento City Unified School District, also reinforced his district's steadfast support for transitional kindergarten.

"Governor Brown's proposed elimination of transitional kindergarten - a move that will effectively kick 125,000 children out of California schools - is a wrong-headed approach to fiscal management. Transitional kindergarten is an investment in the future of California. We cannot build a strong future workforce without well-educated high school graduates who are ready for college and careers, and that effort must start with our youngest learners," noted Raymond.

In San Jose, Dr. John R. Porter Jr., Superintendent of the Franklin-McKinley School District, emphasized his district's strong support of full implementation of transitional kindergarten in a recent rallying speech to the California Kindergarten Association.

"Transitional kindergarten is one of the best pieces of policy that the state of California has put into law over the last several years. It is desperately needed to fill the gap that many of our children have in early vocabulary development, literacy, and readiness skills that are so crucial for a successful school experience," explained Porter.

Also leading the charge to fully implement transitional kindergarten is the Sacramento County Office of Education. "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," warned David W. Gordon, Superintendent of the Sacramento County Office of Education.

Fully implementing transitional kindergarten is in accordance with The Kindergarten Readiness Act - the California law that mandates changing the kindergarten entry date so that children enter school at age 5 and establishing transitional kindergarten, a developmentally-appropriate grade to serve those younger students with birthdays between September and December. The Kindergarten Readiness Act remains the law. The governor's budget proposal would impact 1 out of 4 kindergarten-aged students, representing the largest number of students removed from public education in U.S. history.

The Save Kindergarten coalition of school districts, superintendents, educators, parents, business and civic leaders is launching a series of visibility events in support of the full implementation of transitional kindergarten, including a rally of parents and teachers in Southern California in early February.

For more information on the Save Kindergarten Campaign visit www.preschoolcalifornia.org/savekindergarten.

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

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