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Committee nixes Brown’s pitch to ax transitional kindergarten

03.13.2012 | Victorville Daily Press | Staff Reports

Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial proposal to ax the “transitional kindergarten” program set to launch in the fall hit a major roadblock Tuesday.

The Assembly’s subcommittee on education finance voted to reject the
elimination of transitional kindergarten, which was introduced under a
2010 law that will also raise the minimum age California children can
start kindergarten to 5 years old over the next three years. Three
Democrats voted to keep the program and one Republican called for
cutting it.

The Kindergarten Readiness Act set out to put California in line with
a majority of states and free up some $700 million a year, with the
savings to fund transitional kindergarten to give an extra year of
school to students too young or unprepared for regular kindergarten.

Republican state lawmakers representing the Victor Valley have backed
Brown’s plan to do away with the transitional option, insisting the
financially strapped state should pocket the savings rather than invest
in a new program.

Proponents of transitional kindergarten — including the Save
Kindergarten Coalition of school districts, parents, business and civic
leaders — have blasted Brown’s pitch as a bad policy move, arguing it
would deny school access to some 125,000 previously eligible children
statewide.

The program has already been tested in school districts across
California, including a pilot program at Challenger School of Sports and
Fitness in Victorville.

Following Brown’s budget proposal, district officials were left in
the lurch on whether to proceed with plans for transitional kindergarten
programs or scrap them altogether.

Voices

Here are some legislators’ views on Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to
ax the transitional kindergarten program set to go into effect in the
fall:

“Early education including transitional kindergarten is good for
children’s development. The state, however, does not have money, and
therefore, is not in a position to pay for any new programs.” — Sen.
Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster

“This is a program that benefits young children and it’s going to help
them succeed all the way through. I believe the cost savings will be
significant in the future because of the readiness and because of what
it is going to be offering to these young children. My recommended
action is to reject the governor’s proposal to eliminate TK.” —
Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord

“At a time when even funding for K-12 is suffering, it does not make
sense to create what amounts to another school year. Kindergarten is an
optional program. Many students enter first grade successfully every
year without attending. It should be up to the parents, with input from
the local school district, to decide when their child is ready to enter
kindergarten.” — Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks

“This TK train has already left the station. Parents are planning on it,
schools are planning on it. There has already been an investment made.
We would be just pulling the rug out from under these efforts that have
already been happening at school sites. Parents are going to be left
high and dry.” — Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica

“Let’s also be clear that there is an obligation for the parents to make
sure that their children are prepared to go to kindergarten. Teaching
your children before they go into class is a parent’s responsibility.” —
Assemblyman Steve Knight, R-Palmdale

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