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District Rallies for Transitional Kindergarten Classes to Continue

02.07.2012 | Long Beach Gazette | Stephanie Minasian

Long Beach Unified School District officials, community
educators, parents and civic leaders gathered this morning at
George Washington Carver Elementary to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown’s
proposal to eliminate transitional kindergarten classes across the
state, which would deny up to 125,000 students the right to attend
public school, according to officials.

Transitional kindergarten classes were put into place after the
Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 was passed, which gradually
changed the required birthday for kindergarten admission over a
three-year period.

The governor’s budget proposal is going against the Kindergarten
Readiness Act of 2010, which remains law, officials said. According
to the Save Kindergarten Campaign, up to 5,000 teachers could
permanently lose their jobs, and schools would lose up to $1
billion in Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding.

The new transitional classes were formed to give those younger
students a chance to be better prepared to start school. Children
whose fifth birthdays are between September and December were
recommended to begin the program to start building their
developmental skills.

For the last five years, LBUSD has run similar modified
kindergarten programs, including preppy kindergarten, and is still
looking to continue with its transitional classes for the fall of
2012.

“What I’ve heard from teachers is that transitional kindergarten
provides the opportunity for oral language development,” said LBUSD
Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser. “So, when those kids do go
on to a regular kindergarten program, they are highly successful.
Long Beach does like to be in the forefront in this… I believe
that this is the greatest thing that we can do to close the
achievement gap. We have a goal in Long Beach Unified, and it is
that we want to prepare every single student for college.”

Long Beach parent Shantte Seng said she knows her children were
better prepared for their educational career after her son and
daughter participated in transitional and preppy kindergarten
classes.

Her daughter Chanary, who is now 8 years old, went through a preppy
kindergarten class LBUSD offered.

“She went through the program, and it was great for her,” Seng
said. “She had a chance to grow and develop, and get all of her
letter recognition and her sounds. She began reading by the time
she was done there, and she was ahead of the game.”

Seng’s 5-year-old son, Chankirsna, is now in a transitional
kindergarten class, and is doing well, she said.

“He’s doing great,” Seng added. “It’s building blocks for him. He
is still learning his letter sounds, but I know that by the time he
is done … he will be more than ready for kindergarten, and he
will have success.”

LBUSD educators agree that the program is the key to eliminating
the achievement gap because of its early intervention.

“Parents caught on to the idea that transitional kindergarten was
offering their students the gift of time,” said Carver Elementary
Principal Jennifer Rodarte. “It’s the gift to develop skills, such
as tying their shoes, counting to 100 and fitting in socially.
These skills were so important in building confidence for students,
and confidence at an early age is irreplaceable.”

For more information, visit
www.earlyedgecalifornia.org/savekindergarten.

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