Kayser, Children’s Advocates Oppose Early Education Cuts

06.12.2012 | Eagle Rock Patch

LAUSD Board Member Bennett Kayser joined parents, teachers and children’s advocates at a gathering Monday at an Eagle Rock early education center to urge lawmakers in Sacramento to stop further cuts to early education programs that are set to affect 107 preschools and daycare centers in the District, including two dozen facing the axe outright because of state budget shortfalls.

Representatives at the media-studded public event, at the Toland Way Early Education Center, urged the California legislature to stop further cuts to early education programs before their Friday, June 15, deadline to vote on the state budget.

“Research shows that the first years are the most critical in closing achievement gaps, identifying and minimizing difficulties, and preparing for a lifetime of learning,” Kayser said in a speech, adding that cuts in early education also make it harder for parents to do their jobs because they are forced to tend to their children.

Besides, the cost of K-12 education is reduced when more rather than less children come prepared from the pre-school level, including the LAUSD’s School Readiness Language Development Program(SRLDP), which caters to four-year-olds, Kayser said.

Kayser has submitted a motion to the LAUSD Board of Education at its meeting scheduled on Tuesday, June 12, calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to restore early education funds in his budget this week.

In March, the LAUSD earmarked cuts to a total of 107 Early Education centers, of which 24 are facing an imminent shutdown, affecting a total of about 35,000 students. Exactly how these centers will be impacted would depend on the impending state budget as well as on the fate of two revenue-generating state initiatives scheduled during the November general elections. (One of these is the Governor’s initiative for non-Proposition 98 Education, which would bring $776 million to state funds; the other initiative is Our Children, Our Future, a proposed state income tax increase aimed at funding public education.)

Child care and development programs have already been cut by close to $1 billion since 2008, resulting in a loss of preschool and childcare facilities to some 100,000 children, said Ernesto Saldaña, state field director of Preschool California, a nonprofit group that is based in Oakland and has an office in Eagle Rock. Further cuts would result in as much as a 40-percent total reduction in childcare and development programs since 2008, he said. “The child that starts behind, stays behind,” Saldaña warned, adding: “Our state can no longer afford to stay behind.”

The impact of the cuts begins with parents, who will have to travel longer distances to the closest early education centers still open. Many may be forced to take the drastic and potentially devastating decision not to send their children to early education centers at all, Juan de la Cruz, deputy chief of staff to Board Member Kayser, told Patch.

“A lot of times when people think of School districts, they think of K-12,” said Melina Sanchez, a senior associate with Children Now, an Oakland-based early learning and development policy nonprofit group. “They neglect to think that districts also serve ‘birth to five.’”

A busload of about 50 parents, UTLA teachers and students will depart from the Toland Way Early Education Center at midnight Monday to Sacramento to testify at budget hearings against any cuts to preschool and early education programs.

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