At Sunset Elementary in southwest Fresno Tuesday, Governor Newsom announced sweeping investments in early education. As part of his California Comeback Plan, he said universal transitional kindergarten will soon be a reality.
“Finally, we're in a position to create a brand new grade, TK for all in the state of California,” he said.
The legislation will help school districts create transitional kindergarten programs starting in 2022. The goal is to make the programs free and available at all schools by 2025.
Assemblymember Kevin McCarty of Sacramento introduced the measure.
“Two hundred fifty thousand new kids will get free pre-k for 4-year-olds regardless of income,” McCarty said.
The plan includes $10 million to expand dual language immersion programs. Another $300 million will go toward teacher training and increasing the number of pre-k programs. McCarty said helping schools build facilities to accommodate these programs is key. That effort will get $490 million.
“We did put a lot of one-time money in this year's budget for facilities and we'll be doing so over the next couple of years to help districts implement this,” he said.
It also creates a college savings account for all kids in California. The plan invests $1.9 billion for current low-income, homeless and foster youth who are qualified to receive a seeded investment starting at $500 and up to $1500. About 3.7 million of the 6 million children in California will qualify. Moving forward, qualified students will receive that seeded money by the time they’re enrolled in first grade.
Newsom implemented a similar program during his time as mayor of San Francisco.
“This has never been done in the United States at this scale. This is exciting! And so we're here to mark this incredible moment. I really believe that this is a big, big, deal,” he said.
Families are encouraged to contribute to the account, adding investments that kids can later use for college or vocational programs.
Also signed into law Tuesday, AB 1363, which supports bilingual students’ learning opportunities at an early age. Assemblymember Luz Rivas was the author.
“California will become the first state in the nation to create a standardized process to identify our dual language learners in our state preschools,” she said.
The governor also signed SB 393, which improves access to child care for migrant ag workers. Sen. Melissa Hurtado says it aligns the Migrant Child Care Alternative program with other voucher programs. These measures are all part of the governor’s $124 billion pre-k and k-12 education package.