By Susan Frey
After years of effort to implement transitional kindergarten, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to eliminate the requirement that school districts offer the program, which provides an extra year of public school for 4-year-olds with fall birthdays. His proposal would also allow districts that offer it to charge enrollment fees for parents who aren’t low-income.
The proposal, which is part of the 2016-17 state budget, creates uncertainty for the future of transitional kindergarten. Many early education advocates saw it as a first step toward establishing a publicly funded program for all 4-year-olds. Just this past year, legislators allowed districts to expand the program to younger 4-year-olds, with some funding restrictions. And a recent research report found the program was effective in preparing students for kindergarten.
“The governor’s proposal comes squarely in the face of a fully implemented program that no one wants to give up,” said Erin Gabel, deputy director of external and governmental affairs at First 5 California. “Eliminating it as an entitlement with a stable funding source is a step backwards.”