“Low-income” language to drop from transitional kindergarten bill

Credit: Lillian Mongeau/EdSource Today

Students listen to their teacher during a transitional kindergarten class in Long Beach.

Merely a week after proposing that transitional kindergarten become a program for all 4-year-olds from low-income families, state Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg plans to drop that language in deference to a budget deal that would send more money to the existing state preschool program.

Eligibility requirements* for the current transitional kindergarten program, a year of free pre-kindergarten education for children with birthdays in the first three months of the school year, will not change under the plan Steinberg, D-Sacramento, announced today. Steinberg began 2014 with a proposal to make transitional kindergarten available for all 4-year-olds. Last week he amended that proposal to make it available only to children from low-income families and then said today that there would be no change to who is eligible for the program.

Steinberg said his office had received “push-back” against the idea that program eligibility be based on income level, “because it’s a popular program.” Instead, Democratic leaders struck a deal that includes $155 million more for the existing California State Preschool program, which is for for 4-year-olds from families making less than 70 percent of the median state income, or $47,181 for a family of four.

“In an odd way, we’re farther ahead than where I thought we might be,” Steinberg said.

Though the current proposal would not provide a preschool slot for every 4-year-old in the state, Steinberg said he was pleased that it would increase the number of available slots by 11,500 in 2014-15 and by a total of 43,000 over several years.

Though not related to today’s deal, transitional kindergarten will also grow next year in accordance with its original 2010 design. Starting in the fall of 2014 all of the students who will become eligible for the program based on their fall birthdays will be able to enroll. The program has been phased in over three school years, starting in the fall of 2012.

Between the two increases, California will have more 4-year-olds enrolled in publicly funded education programs than it has since the cuts to early childhood programs during the recession.

“I’m very pleased,” Steinberg said. “The toehold is there to leap even farther” toward universal preschool, he said.

*This story has been updated to clarify that it’s the eligibility requirements for transitional kindergarten that won’t change.

Lillian Mongeau covers early childhood education. Contact her or follow her @lrmongeau. Subscribe to EdSource’s early learning newsletter, Eyes on the Early Years.

Filed under: Early Learning, Transitional Kindergarten



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9 Responses to ““Low-income” language to drop from transitional kindergarten bill”

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  1. Nona Loftis on Jun 16, 2014 at 6:56 pm06/16/2014 6:56 pm

    • 000

    I taught TK this past year and will be teaching it during the 2014-2015 school year. Does this trailer bill mean that in order for me to teach TK after July 2015 I would need to take early childhood education classes? Would TK be only using the California Preschool Learning Foundations and no longer using any of the California Common Core State Standards or other Content Standards for California Public Schools?


    • Lillian Mongeau on Jun 17, 2014 at 9:49 am06/17/2014 9:49 am

      • 000

      Good questions. The final language of the trailer bill is still being worked out. I think the answer to your first question will be “yes, by 2019-20.” Don’t quote me on that yet though. I’ll have a more definitive story when they governor has signed everything and it’s settled law. Regarding your question about standards, I’m really not sure. That too will be covered in an upcoming story once everything has been signed, sealed and delivered. I’m thinking mid-July. Thanks for reading and for your thoughtful questions. I’ll do my best to answer them better soon!

  2. Jessica on Jun 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm06/16/2014 3:08 pm

    • 000

    I am sitting here reading this in tears. I have had an in home child care/preschool for years. Went to community college to get my ECE credits plus some at UOP. However working as a preschool teacher I didn’t make enough money to pay my bills and to get by in California. Hence why I started my very own. This year I have had 8 kids drop my program because they offer TK now. I am thinking pretty soon my preschool/child care will be obsolete, and more small child care/ in home preschools will go out of business. I have had waiting lists, and now that is going away. Going back as a preschool teacher I wouldn’t be able to afford my house, I would lose everything I have off that income. Going back to school is not an option since it’s so expensive and I have to work during the weekdays. I am truly saddened by this. But happy for those who truly need the TK program.


    • Lillian Mongeau on Jun 16, 2014 at 4:22 pm06/16/2014 4:22 pm

      • 000


      I don’t know your exact situation or your credentials, but you might look into opportunities to be an aide in a TK classroom in local public school districts. Also, the additional state funding for state preschool includes raising the rates paid to small preschool owners for enrolling qualifying children from low-income families. I’d be interested to speak with you offline to learn more about your situation and how you see this legislation affecting your business in future. You can reach me at lmongeau@edsource.org.


  3. Eric Premack on Jun 13, 2014 at 5:58 pm06/13/2014 5:58 pm

    • 000

    If the budget trailer bill is enacted in its current form, which seems a foregone conclusion, the transitional kindergarten (TK) program will change. The trailer bill would impose a new mandate that TK teachers hold “at least one credential” and have at least 24 units of early childhood education or child development credits. In addition, they’ll need to have a child development permit as issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

    The bill also declares legislative intent that a school’s TK curriculum be aligned to the California Department of Education’s “California Preschool Learning Foundations” document.

    What was sold as a relatively simple program with a great deal of local control is now starting the seemingly inexorable slide toward state control.


    • Lillian Mongeau on Jun 16, 2014 at 12:25 pm06/16/2014 12:25 pm

      • 000

      Fair point, Eric. I was only referring to eligibility – have added clarification. I’d actually be interested in talking to you about the other changes for a future story. Thanks, as always, for reading.

  4. Slammy on Jun 13, 2014 at 10:59 am06/13/2014 10:59 am

    • 000

    Can you please clarify what is the current deal in the works? Given the TK vs. PreK definitions, it’s hard to strip it out from your description of previous proposals.

    1. Who is eligible in this new version? Sept – Dec 4 year old only?

    2. How does spending more money translate into more students? Are eligible kids being turned away right now or is the quality not high enough to compete with other preschool/daycare options? Or what? Seems like eligibility would drive the cost, not the other way around (unless it’s been unfunded).

    Finally, would some one please explain why permanent TK (only for Sept-Dec. kids) is constitutional? How does providing 14 years of education to some people and 13 years to others based on an arbitrary birthday cut off not go against CA constitution? Given that preschool’s effectiveness for low income kids, why wouldn’t there a challenge?


    • Lillian Mongeau on Jun 16, 2014 at 12:31 pm06/16/2014 12:31 pm

      • 000

      1. Yes. (I think it’s Sept. 1 to Dec. 2 though.)

      2. Yes, eligible kids are being turned away from the California State Preschool program right now. The program has been under-funded for years and lost even more funding during the recession. A total of $1 billion was cut from preschool and child care services for low-income families during the recession. Fifty-five million was restored last year and a total of $264 million, $155 million of which is specifically for state preschool as mentioned above, will be restored this year.

      I think the constitutional question is an interesting one. I’m not sure how it would be justified in court. I hope to look into it though, so stay tuned.

      • Slammy on Jun 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm06/17/2014 12:25 pm

        • 000


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