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Early Edge California meeting: CTA member Paula Merrigan, second from left, and Board member Eva Ruiz, third from right.

While Early Childhood Education (ECE) is getting a much-needed investment of resources, advocacy group Early Edge California, formerly known as Preschool California, held a series of meetings with a variety of ECE educators to gain insight into the needs of early learners. CTA Board member Eva Ruiz and Castro Valley Teachers Association member Paula Merrigan participated in the meetings.

Early Edge California executive director Patricia Lozano shared the top seven items that came up during these discussions:

  • Higher pay is key to recruitment and retention. Low pay is the No. 1 barrier to hiring and keeping early learning teachers.
  • Large class sizes are hurting quality. One of the biggest challenges that TK teachers report is the large class sizes and the high student ratios.
  • Teachers want training on how to support dual-language learners, as well as classroom resources to help them communicate and engage with their culturally and linguistically diverse kids and their families.
  • The benefits of bilingualism are not well understood, and there is a lack of awareness about the importance of supporting a child’s home language development. As a result, many parents try not to speak their native language with their kids.
  • Educators are frustrated by lack of funding, saying that more resources are needed to improve access and quality.
  • Early learning educators need financial support to further their education and training, but most teachers lack the resources or paid time off to access professional development opportunities.
  • The current unit-based Child Development Permit does not meet teachers’ needs. Instead, they agreed that California should move to a competency-based system of preparation that focuses on knowledge and skills acquisition.

For more information on Early Edge California and their ECE advocacy and resources, visit Early Edge California.

Little Kids, Big Impact: Special report on Early Childhood Education

Research clearly shows that children who attend high-quality preschool, or who enroll in transitional kindergarten, get a jump on learning and social skills. Preschool and TK can also have lasting effects into children’s later years of school and life. With almost $2 billion earmarked for early childhood education (ECE) in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget, we look at ECE efforts in the state and how educators and students benefit.

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