Next Generation Letter of Support for the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2014
NOTE: The following letter was originally published on March, 31, 2014. It has been revised to reflect a recent ammendment to the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2014.
April 4, 2014
The Honorable Darrell Steinberg
Senate President pro Tempore, State of California
State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: Support for the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2014 - SB 837 (Steinberg) as amended April 2, 2014
Dear Senate President pro Tempore Steinberg,
I am writing in support of the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2014 (SB 837-Steinberg). SB 837, in combination with SB 1123, will create a strong system of early care and development for all California children from birth to kindergarten. These are the most important years to invest in to ensure the best outcomes for our children, and for our economy.
Researchers from Stanford University have found that by the age of 2, there is already a six-month gap between lower- and higher-income children in language proficiency. This new research builds on earlier work showing that very poor children typically hear 30 million fewer words addressed to them by age 3 than higher-income children. An average child from a low-income family knows 500 words by the age of 3, compared with 700 words for a child from a working-class family and 1,100 for a child from a professional family.
This gap exists both because of a lack of awareness by low-income parents and caregivers about the importance of talking directly to young children to build their vocabularies, and a lack of access to high-quality child care and preschool to provide children with language-rich environments.
California can and should take a stand on closing the word gap by investing in early learning and development. Yet, California’s system of early childhood education has suffered during years of painful budgets. Accessible, high-quality early education, in conjunction with communication efforts that ensure that every Californian understands the importance of early brain development, will have a transformative effect on the state and our future.
Transitional kindergarten is an important component of a comprehensive early education system. It has a track record of building core academic knowledge in pre-literacy and early math in a developmentally appropriate setting. It also helps children attain critical learning skills such as paying attention, managing emotions, and completing tasks. And yet, only half of California's low-income preschool-aged children currently benefit from existing State Preschool or federal Head Start programs, and only one-quarter of all children have access to TK. Only 8% of eligible infants and toddlers receive state child care subsidies.
For these reasons, Next Generation supports a comprehensive investment in early learning. SB 837 and SB 1123 are critical steps to reinvest in our children and to reassert children as a public policy priority.
Children & Families Program