By Andrea Ball
This is a year of unexpected opportunity to strengthen early childhood programs and policy in California. The new federal education law, Governor Jerry Brown’s surprising early education budget proposal and the continued commitment of the Legislature to early childhood programs together offer a unique chance for state policymakers and local educators to deepen support for early learning programs and address achievement gaps.
The Every Student Succeeds Act, the title of the federal law, contains new recognition of the importance of early childhood education. There is new language encouraging the use of federal education funds at the local level to help children successfully transition from pre-kindergarten programs into elementary school. School districts will also have to address these transitions in federally required local plans. State agencies will have to outline how they will support local efforts in early childhood education. And for the first time, federal professional development funds will include preschool administrators and teachers, including those who work with pre-kindergarten dual-language children.