Parents, districts oppose Brown’s proposed transitional kindergarten cuts

02.07.2012 | Long Beach Press Telegram | Kelly Puente

LONG BEACH – When Shanette
Seng’s daughter turned 5, she noticed her reading and writing skills
were slightly behind other children her age.

The Long Beach mom decided to enroll her daughter in
transitional kindergarten, a hybrid between preschool and kindergarten
that gives children an extra year to prepare.

“It gave her the chance to grow and develop her skills, to learn her letters and sounds,” Seng said. “It was a huge help.”

Today, her daughter, now 8, is enrolled in advanced classes at
Gompers K-8 school in Long Beach and is doing well, the mom said.

She and others with Long Beach Unified joined school districts
across the state Tuesday in a rally opposing Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to
cut funding for transitional kindergarten this year.

Transitional kindergarten was adopted by many of California’s
school districts in response to new state legislation that raises the
starting age for kindergarten.

The law, signed in 2010, pushes back the date by which
children must turn 5 to enter kindergarten from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1. The
change will be phased in one month at a time over three years starting
this fall.

Brown says the state could save an estimated $224 million in
2012-13 by not requiring districts to offer transitional kindergarten.
That savings would increase to $672 million in 2014-2015 when the law takes full effect.

Educational leaders say cutting transitional kindergarten will put
a strain on families who can’t afford child care, and would leave
behind up to 125,000 children who would be cut off under the age

In a rally at George Washington Carver School in Long Beach,
teachers, parents and community members came to together to voice their

LBUSD Superintendent Chris Steinhauser, a major advocate for transitional kindergarten, said the extra year of help is essential for students in school districts with challenging demographics.

“It’s the greatest thing we can do to close the achievement gap in California,” he said.

For the last five years, the LBUSD has offered transitional kindergarten, called “kindergarten prep,” for younger students and those who need extra help.

LBUSD officials said the school district still plans to offer kindergarten prep regardless of the funding cuts.

Starting this fall, all students who turn 5 between September
and December will be placed in a kindergarten prep class for a year
before starting regular kindergarten., 562-714-2181, The Associated Press contributed to this report.

To read the full article, please click here, where you can also find direct links to a photo gallery and video from the event.


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