- Simone Braithwaite
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Early Childhood Education supporters hosted a press conference and classroom tour to celebrate the start of Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) in schools throughout the state.
AB 190 (McCarty), signed in 2021, will give all four-year-olds in California access to a year of free, high-quality pre-K through California’s public school system by 2025. With this expansion, TK enrollment is projected to increase to more than 300,000 students by 2025-26, with the first year of implementation starting this 2022-23 school year.
Additionally, the expansion will create tens of thousands of new jobs in early education due to the adult-to-child-ratio changing from 24:1 to 12:1. This means most TK classrooms will create two new staffing positions, including one certified position. Altogether, researchers estimate that Universal TK will create over 28,000 jobs.
“I have been working on making Universal Transitional Kindergarten available to all four-year-olds since I was elected to the state Legislature,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. “I was excited to finally see it come to fruition last year when I secured funding in the 2021 California State Budget. Research has shown that children who attend TK classes are more likely to do well in school and attend college. Not only will TK give every child the opportunity for success in and out of the classroom, it will provide childcare for many working families. I want to thank the sponsors and supporters who have worked with me to see this expansion happen.”
"The expansion of Transitional Kindergarten to all 4-year-olds is giving future generations of students the building blocks they need for success in school and life,” said Early Edge Executive Director Patricia Lozano. “It will help close the opportunity gap for low-income and bilingual children who particularly suffered learning loss during the pandemic. California continues to be a leader of innovation and the expansion of Transitional Kindergarten follows this trajectory. When complete, we will have the largest preschool program in the nation. We thank Asm. McCarty, our cosponsors, and Governor Newsom for their dedication to this effort and to our children and families. We should all be extremely proud of this achievement for our state."
“We know the best way to close the achievement gap is to prevent it from opening in the first place, and providing free quality education to all four-year-olds in San Diego Unified is helping us level the playing field for our youngest learners,” Superintendent Dr. Lamont Jackson said. “Universal TK has been overwhelmingly popular with working parents who often struggle to find affordable early education programs.”
“On behalf of the quarter million classified employees we represent across California, CSEA thanks Assemblymember Kevin McCarty for authoring our sponsored bill, AB 22, and embracing our vision to offer Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to all California four-year-olds.” - Adam Weinberger, President, California School Employees Association
“UTK will serve more children than any other state preschool program in the country, and its teachers will be among the highest paid pre-k teachers in the country,” said Kidango Chief Executive Officer Scott Moore. “By enacting UTK, California has set a new bar for the nation by ensuring that all children, regardless of income or race, have the opportunity to attend a quality preschool and that their teachers are paid a professional wage with good benefits and a pension.
During this past Legislative Session, Assemblymember McCarty’s Early Education bill, AB 22, was also signed into law. This bill will help ensure the success of the TK program by collecting the necessary student and workforce data to understand the impacts and outcomes of the state’s investment.
Kevin McCarty represents California’s 7th Assembly District, which include the cities of Sacramento, West Sacramento and unincorporated Sacramento County. McCarty serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance. Website of Assemblymember Kevin McCarty: https://a07.asmdc.org/