Promising to tackle key issues regarding early childhood education in California such as lack of access to child care and the high cost of quality care, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) announced the launch of a Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education on Wednesday.
“This commission is a bipartisan effort to do the hard work of figuring out how we can support children and families at those early developmental stages,” Rendon said. “We want this to be something that will take the discussion away from the budget wrangles where someone has to lose for you to win. It’s important that we all win on this one.”
The commission will hold a series of hearings across the state, then issue policy recommendations to the Legislature. The first hearing will be held in the next month.
“Our future is built on a tiny foundation,” Rendon said. “Our youngest children are learning even before they start school, and that learning is the basis of their entire educational success. Their success is our success.”
Rendon brings a background in early education to his work in the Legislature. Before he was elected to the Assembly in 2012, Rendon was the executive director of the nonprofit Plaza de la Raza Child Development Services, Inc. The nonprofit provides community resources and support services to children and families in Los Angeles County. It currently operates 25 centers, including eight family child care providers that provide assistance in literacy, employment and other issues.
The Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education will be co-chaired by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). The commission also includes Assembly members Brian Maienschein (R-San Diego), Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Marie Waldron (R-Escondido).
It will also include nine other members who are experts or advocates in early childhood issues. as well as providers of children’s services.
- Michael Olenick, president and CEO, Child Care Resource Center;
- Nina Buthee, executive director, California Child Development Administrators Association;
- Deborah Kong, director, Early Edge California;
- Celia Ayala, senior adviser, L.A. Universal Preschool (LAUP);
- Tonia McMillian, SEIU Local 99 member and child care provider;
- Mary Ignatius, statewide organizer, Parent Voices;
- Parvin Ahmadi, school superintendent, Castro Valley Unified School District;
- Jacquelyn McCroskey, professor of child welfare at the University of Southern California School of Social Work;
- Sonia Campos-Rivera, director of education policy and public affairs, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
Kong of Early Edge California said she is enthusiastic about being a part of a team that will create “a vision for a high-quality early learning system that meets the needs of children.”
“There is a growing bipartisan recognition that a quality early education has a profound impact on the success of children and families, but our policies and investments have yet to catch up,” Kong said. “We have work to do to ensure educators, caregivers and parents have the support necessary to provide the kinds of quality experiences that allow young children to thrive in school and life.”
The commission plans to identify ways to improve the state’s early learning system and update what it calls an “outdated funding plan” that has fallen short in meeting the demand for child care access in California.
“Child care remains an important issue not just for me, the Women’s Caucus or families – but for employers and employees alike – as it affects the future of our workforce,” said Assemblywoman Garcia.