(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 2660, the Quality Early Education and Development Act of 2016. This measure would ask the California Department of Education to submit to the Legislature a 3-year plan to provide all low income kids with access to a quality early childhood education program.
“Quality early childhood education has been proven to help close the achievement gap and prepare children to succeed in school,” said Assemblymember McCarty. “California can no longer continue to leave thousands of kids behind without access to quality pre-k programs and must look at investing in the future.”
“This bill puts children first by ensuring they not only have the opportunity to attend pre-kindergarten, but have a high-quality experience that improves their outcomes,” said Deborah Kong, president of Early Edge California. “I applaud Assemblyman McCarty for envisioning a future in which the state meets the early learning needs of our young children so that they can reach their full potential in school and beyond. That’s the California promise.”
In last year’s budget, the importance of quality early childhood was prioritized in the budget, including 9,500 new preschool slots. Unfortunately despite this increase, an estimated 34,000 four-year-olds do not have access to Transitional Kindergarten (TK), Head Start, or State Preschool. Last year, AB 47 (McCarty) which passed the Legislature with strong bi-partisan support, required all low income kids that do not have access to TK or State Preschool, have access to State Preschool. Unfortunately, the measure was vetoed by the Governor.
AB 2660 renews the call to ensure that all low income kids have access to quality early childhood education programs. Overwhelming research shows that investing in quality early education is highly effective in promoting student academic success, preventing kids from entering the juvenile justice system, and fighting poverty. Most recently, the American Institutes for Research released new data that shows that children in TK did significantly better in literary skills and had improved knowledge of mathematical skills compared to their peers that did not attend a TK program. This bill is sponsored by Early Edge California and will be eligible for hearings in spring.