The Blog

Early Child Educators Urge Lawmakers to Make Kindergarten Mandatory

(Photo above from r.) At the state Capitol, Assembly Education Chair Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), a coauthor of CTA’s sponsored mandatory kindergarten bill, discusses the measure with members of CTA’s Early Childhood Education Committee: (from r.) Ruthie Fagerstrom, Carole Delgado, and Marie Ibsen.

(Photo above)  Members of CTA’s Early Childhood Education Committee meet with Assembly Member Ian Calderon (at right) in Sacramento as part of the efforts to secure passage of CTA’s only 2014 sponsored bill, AB 1444 (Buchanan and Weber), the mandatory kindergarten measure. The CTA members are (from l.) Michelle Johnson, Trent Stillman, and Sue Allen.

A dozen members of the CTA State Council of Education Early Childhood Education Committee spent Tuesday in the state Capitol meeting with lawmakers in support of AB 1444, the CTA-sponsored measure by Assembly Education Chair Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) and Assembly Member Shirley Weber (D-San Diego). They visited the offices of all 17 members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where the bill is awaiting further action.

The 12 CTA members are classroom experts who helped educate lawmakers about the importance of ensuring that every child benefits from the rigorous introduction to learning that occurs in today’s kindergarten classroom.

Some 90 percent of the state’s youngsters are now completing public kindergarten before starting first grade, and another 5 percent are enrolling in private or parochial kindergarten classes.  But the 5 percent who do not attend either option are drawn disproportionately from among English language learners and minority and impoverished students.

Missing kindergarten means these children start first grade at a disadvantage, a gap that can widen as they continue into higher grades.

AB 1444 is among dozens of bills now in the Assembly Appropriations Committee’s hold or “suspense” file. Soon, the panel will try to determine which of the bills on suspense the state can afford.

The CTA members reminded lawmakers that the measure would cost only around $6 million annually, at a time state revenues are exceeding earlier estimates by more than $2.4 billion, according to the governor’s newly release May Revision of his budget.

The bill would save the state enormous costs by increasing the high school graduation rate and boosting the number of youngsters fully prepared to enter the workforce.

(Photo above) Assembly Appropriations Chair Mike Gatto (at left) listens intently as educators Marie Ibsen and Ruthie Fagerstrom stress the importance of CTA-sponsored AB 1444.

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