Los Angeles – On Wednesday, California’s pre-kindergarten proposal, a multi-year strategy to bridge the achievement gap and expand early-learning opportunities for all low-income children in the state, got the green light from the State Legislature during the Budget Conference Committee. The full membership of the State’s Senate and Assembly will consider sending the proposal to California’s Governor in a floor vote on Sunday afternoon. This resulted from initial legislation by Senate President pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg (SB 837) and Senator Carol Liu (SB 1123); both bills seek to invest in quality early learning from 0-5 and are co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and State Superintendent Tom Torlakson.
“The Chamber understands the importance of investing in early learning and its effectiveness in increasing high school graduation and college attendance, decreasing crime and building a stronger economy,” said David Rattray, senior vice president of education and workforce development for the L.A. Area Chamber. “Currently, only 170,695 children have access to licensed early education centers in Los Angeles County out of a 0-5 population of 654,277; we applaud state leadership for expanding access to quality early education and investing in the future of California."
The proposal will increase quality in existing programs and make new strategic investments in early childhood education, starting in the 2014-15 budget year at $264 million. At full implementation, Fair Start will offer 234,000 low-income 4-year-olds access to high quality pre-kindergarten, representing nearly half of all 4-year-olds in California.
“It is smarter and more prudent to make this investment in success up front, rather than paying for the costs of failure at the end,” said California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D – Sacramento).
The agreement includes four complementary components; expanding California State Preschool (FY 14-15: $85 million in additional investment), improving Transitional Kindergarten (FY 14-15: within existing resources), enhancing preschool quality and infrastructure (FY 14-15: $85 million), and restoring rates, childcare and Early Start (FY14-15: $94 million).
The L.A. Area Chamber continues to champion early learning with members of the business community, including the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Joint Venture Silicon Valley, Greater Fresno Area Chamber, North Bay Leadership Council, San Francisco Chamber, Oakland Metropolitan Chamber, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, East Bay Economic Development Agency, San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber, Inland Empire Economic Partnership, Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Business Council of San Joaquin County. The L.A. Area Chamber is also working with advocacy groups such as Early Edge, Children Now, First 5 CA, First 5 LA, Zero to Three, Advancement Project and LAUP.
The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of business in L.A. County. Founded in 1888, the Chamber promotes a prosperous economy and quality of life in the Los Angeles region. For more information, visit www.lachamber.com.