Leading Democratic candidates for California governor back universal preschool
BY LOUIS FREEDBERG AND ASHLEY HOPKINSON, EDSOURCE
In what would be a significant shift from Gov. Jerry Brown’s position on early education, the four leading Democratic candidates running to replace him next year say they are committed to offering universal preschool in California.
Under Gov. Brown’s watch, California has increased the number of subsidized preschool and child care slots, as well as access to an early kindergarten grade called transitional kindergarten for some 4-year-olds. But much to the frustration of early education advocates, Brown has rejected pressures to expand preschool to all low-income 4-year-olds, mainly citing the costs of such an expansion as the major impediment. In a setback for advocates two years ago, Brown vetoed what was called “The Preschool for All” legislation (Assembly Bill 47).
But at an October event in Sacramento organized by Advancement Project California as part of its “Birth to Five Water Cooler” gathering, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, State Treasurer John Chiang and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin all agreed that universal preschool was essential not only for children, but for the state.
In addition, all four agreed that early education workers are underpaid, that the state should provide greater support for children long before preschool, and that they would be willing to look at reform of Proposition 13 or the state’s tax structure to generate funds to underwrite an expansion of early education programs. The candidates did not spell out what they meant by universal preschool, but it generally is understood to mean ensuring access to high quality preschool for all 4 year olds, with the state subsidizing the costs for low-income children.
Because it is virtually certain that a Democrat will succeed Brown, their comments suggested that the cause of universal preschool will get a major boost under […]