State legislators on Monday introduced two bills that would make education more accessible to California’s youngest and some of its oldest learners, complementing efforts already underway in San Francisco.
Assemblymember Miguel Santiago has called for the state to provide two tuition-free years of community college for first-time, full-time community students under Assembly Bill 2, and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty is looking to expand access to preschool education for low and middle-income families under Assembly Bill 123.
Both proposals will “hopefully build on the Bay Area’s leadership in helping students, whether preschool families or college students, that are still left behind and don’t have the chance to participate,” McCarty told the San Francisco Examiner on Tuesday.
While San Francisco voters in June approved Proposition C, a San Francisco voter-approved measure seeking to raise upwards of $140 million for childcare services, early education and teacher salaries by raising a tax on commercial rents, that measure is facing legal opposition. But Santiago’s AB2 would set aside more than $1.5 billion in state funding to expand existing preschool programs for middle and low-income families.
McCarty has also introduced legislation to fund the construction of preschools and to hike the wages of preschool teachers. While the bill would not provide universal childcare, it would address gaps in service, he said.
“We have to be realistic with money we have in the budget. Universal would cost north of $4 billion. I don’t know if we can afford that,” he said, adding that while current subsidized state preschool programs currently serve about “175,000 middle and lower income three-and-four-year olds,” there are tens of thousands of more families who could “benefit based on their income.”