California News Service
LOS ANGELES – Groups that advocate for children in California are pressing state lawmakers to fully fund Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget requests to expand access to early learning. Newsom is proposing to expand pre-kindergarten programs to all low-income 4-year-olds in the state within three years.
Kim Pattillo Brownson, vice president for policy and strategy at First Five LA, said other states that have put money into pre-K find that the programs show strong return on investment almost immediately.
“And they’re seeing tremendous gains both in terms of academic achievement,” she said, “but also in terms of lesser rates of special ed in the K-12 system, and a lesser incidence of children being held back.”
Pattillo Brownson said studies have shown that too many lower-income children are mistakenly placed in special education when they just haven’t had enough exposure to reading and writing. The budget also proposes $750 million for building new classrooms so more school districts have the facilities to offer full-day kindergarten.
In his budget announcement, Newsom noted that about 25 percent of all school districts in California only offer a half-day kindergarten program, which can be difficult for working parents. Pattillo Brownson said the kids need the extra hours of instruction.
“A part-day program is not sufficient to get children ready to read with our new and more advanced standards,” she said.
Newsom’s proposal also includes new money for screening children for trauma or developmental delays, and seeks to expand home visitation programs for low-income parents with newborns.
The budget proposal is online at ebudget.ca.gov.