Contact: Claudia Briggs, 916-325-1550
CTA is joining Assembly Education Chair Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) and Assembly Member Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) in sponsoring AB 1444 requiring mandatory kindergarten in California schools. The Assembly Education Committee is considering the measure at its meeting today.
“Our youngest students come to us in various stages of preparedness yet they are expected to learn the same curricula taught to the entire class regardless of where each student may be developmentally and academically,” said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “We believe every student deserves a fair shot at a quality education that should begin with kindergarten to ensure they are best prepared to learn and thrive as they progress to the next grade levels.”
AB 1444 requires all students to attend kindergarten prior to the first grade.
“With the current standards, and especially as the Common Core State Standards are being implemented, students who do not attend kindergarten are at a distinct disadvantage when they get to first grade,” said Ruthie Fagerstrom, a third grade teacher in the Glendora Unified School District and chair of CTA’s Early Childhood Education Committee. “AB 1444 provides students with that much-needed early learning that will prepare them for success throughout their school years.”
By making kindergarten mandatory, AB 1444 will help parents understand the importance of regular, ongoing attendance.
“Many Californians are not aware that kindergarten enrollment is voluntary, and that children who are not enrolled are at a distinct disadvantage when they enter first grade,” said Kei Swenson, a kindergarten teacher in Oakland and chair of CTA's Early Childhood Education Legislative Subcommittee. “We see the effects in our classrooms every day. These students often lag in terms of achievement levels, oral language development, fine and gross motor skill development, as well as socially and emotionally. Our students deserve better.”
Enrollment is even lower among ethnic minorities, English language learners and children living below the poverty line. By closing the kindergarten attendance gap we can help close the achievement gap. In addition, the absenteeism in kindergarten can be high since many parents may pull their children out of class because they do not recognize the program as being an important part of their child’s education.
AB 1444 would only minimally impact education funding currently provided to local school districts. As state funding is based on Average Daily Attendance (ADA) now, the increased cost to the state is not extreme and can easily be accommodated within the current budget.
“We look forward to working with lawmakers to ensure passage of AB 1444,” concluded Vogel. “A lot of positive changes are happening in California’s public schools and making kindergarten mandatory for all students would be yet another step toward enhancing student learning.”
The 325,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.