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boy building castle

Credit: Lillian Mongeau/EdSource Today

A boy builds a tower at his state preschool program in East Palo Alto.

California’s state funded preschool program enrolled about 15,000 fewer children in 2012-13 than it had the year before, according to the State Preschool Yearbook by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Steven Barnett, the institute’s director, said California was one of several large states, including Texas and Florida, to meet few of the quality standards for public preschool programs. California meets 4 out of 10 of the standards established by the institute for high quality programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Barnett also called California one of the country’s “biggest losers” because of its declining enrollment and resulting decline in spending on early childhood programs. California actually spent $340 more per child in 2012-13 than it had in the previous year, but with so many fewer children enrolled, overall spending went down.

California ranks 27th out of 41 states (including the District of Columbia) in providing preschool access to 4-year-olds and 7th in providing access to 3-year-olds. (Ten states do not offer public preschool.) California spent $4,541 per child enrolled in state preschool in 2012-13, according to the report. That’s more than other big states like Texas and Florida and even Massachusetts, which ranks high in public education spending. Still, it doesn’t come close to the $12,070 New Jersey is spending, nor is it even half as much as the $9,810 Connecticut is spending.

All those rankings would change dramatically if California went forward with state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s proposal to make transitional kindergarten a mandatory public school offering for all children who have turned 4 years old by Sept. 1 of a given year, Barnett said.

“If transitional kindergarten became a program for all 4-year-olds, it would shoot California to the top,” Barnett said. “It would probably rival Washington D.C. (for the top spot). It wouldn’t just expand enrollment, but the funding levels and quality standards would be substantially higher than the (current) state preschool program.”

The bill to expand transitional kindergarten, SB 837, passed the Senate Education Committee last month and is set to be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 19.

A full copy of the State Preschool Yearbook can be seen at www.NIEER.org.

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


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  1. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    Many Pre-K slots were closed due to the sequester. To what extent might that that contributed to the decline in enrollment?

    Replies

    • Lillian Mongeau 2 years ago2 years ago

      Hi Gary,

      The sequester only affected Head Start slots starting in the spring on 2013. The numbers in this story relate to state preschool slots, which were not directly impacted by the sequester.

      For more on how the sequester impacted Head Start, check out: http://edsource.org/tag/sequester#.U3KWIi-ceFc

      Thanks,
      Lillian

      • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

        Thanks for the reply. Liliian. I do know I attended a number of conferences with Pr-K/childcare providers in the last year who were divested by the number of cuts in program that that had to endure. Perhaps it was more just general budget cuts as opposed to the sequester?

        • Floyd Thursby 2 years ago2 years ago

          Gary, wouldn’t this reduce the budget available for teacher salaries? Is there a source to guarantee this comes from increased taxes rather than out of something else in education? The plan from the All in the Family guy was good because it had a funding source, Rob Reiner? I don’t see that here.

          • Lillian Mongeau 2 years ago2 years ago

            Floyd, Gary’s just asking about the spending levels for the current state preschool program. He’s not talking about any bill to expand preschool services.

            To answer your question, Gary: Yes. The reduction in state preschool enrollment came from state budget cuts, not the sequester.

            • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

              I think that might be relevant to the article. The way it reads, enrollment declined for “some” reason. It could be assumed that that might be lack of need when it was actually lack of resources.

              Just sayin’

  2. FloydThursby 2 years ago2 years ago

    This has the potential to be a great thing in closing the achievement gap, but I predict it will barely make a dent. The mentality of those running pre-schools is so laid back, so not goal oriented, so opposite of what is working that I just don't see it helping much. It sounds good now, but will just become part of the status quo. We heard going from 4 to 6 hours … Read More

    This has the potential to be a great thing in closing the achievement gap, but I predict it will barely make a dent. The mentality of those running pre-schools is so laid back, so not goal oriented, so opposite of what is working that I just don’t see it helping much. It sounds good now, but will just become part of the status quo. We heard going from 4 to 6 hours for Kindergarten would be huge, 2 hours a day would guarantee 1st grade readiness, and no one now says that made a dent, it’s just built in now.

    I took my daughter out of pre-school after two years and got her a tutor for the final 6 months before Kindergarten for a mere 8 hours a week, and tutored her myself many other hours. There is some socialization value, kids playing together, doing art, learning to get along and be away from their parents, we’ve all been there when kids don’t want to go to pre-school and have to tough it out and go, and you don’t want that happening in Kindergarten.

    However, in Chinese Culture they say if you don’t teach a kid significant reading by 3, you have another 3 years, by 6 if they’re behind, 90% of the time they’ll stay there, and Asian Americans are 3.5 times as likely as whites to raise kids who end up UC eligible, and that includes Hmongs and Vietnamese and Filipinos, if you look at Chinese/Indian/Korean it’s even higher.

    These programs will thrive if they make sure to spend a couple hours a day on counting, flash cards, phonics, reading, etc. My kids were reading before starting kindergarten, as were most of the Asian kids but not most of the others. Kids can read by five and that is a huge jump in starting kindergarten which will help them for life. We need to make sure kids are tested and we know they are learning, not just adding to the status quo. These are the facts, and they are undisputed.

    Replies

    • Celeste Phooey Condon 2 years ago2 years ago

      I say Phooey on all of this. I've been involved in unpleasant discussions with Don and Floyd on other blogs and their utter disdain for teachers' rights and the challenges faced by the poor. Poor kids don't learn to read because they have one parent on drugs forced into prostitution and they can't go to the store with their parents without being shot at and yelled at and emotionally abused, many are molested … Read More

      I say Phooey on all of this. I’ve been involved in unpleasant discussions with Don and Floyd on other blogs and their utter disdain for teachers’ rights and the challenges faced by the poor.

      Poor kids don’t learn to read because they have one parent on drugs forced into prostitution and they can’t go to the store with their parents without being shot at and yelled at and emotionally abused, many are molested or live with single mothers who can’t survive and turn to drug dealing, petty theft or prostitution and use the TV to babysit their kids while they take extra work at home to pay the rent, are on foodstamps which are nowhere near enough, and are malnourished and food deprived.

      You try studying when you’ve been beaten. These young children face insurmountable abuse and humiliation due to the gazillionaires taking advantage of and abusing them.

      Pre-school will never fix this. This is abuse. The rich are taking almost every penny. $19 of every $20 in increase in the economy since 2008 has gone to 1%.

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