Education
5:58 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Democrats Propose Universal Pre-K Programs

Students in a transitional kindergarten class at H.W. Harkness Elementary School in Sacramento.
Students in a transitional kindergarten class at H.W. Harkness Elementary School in Sacramento.
Credit Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

Providing transitional kindergarten for all the four-year-olds in California would cost about a $1 billion, but supporters say it would be worth it. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on a new proposal introduced today.

In an elementary school near Sacramento, students in a transitional kindergarten class practice saying the date.

These kids are among several thousand California four-year olds enrolled in pre-K programs. Now state Senate Democrats want to make transitional kindergarten available to all four-year-olds.

But expanding the program would cost California nearly one billion dollars by the time it’s fully implemented in the 2019-2020 school year. Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says the money would be wisely spent.

Steinberg: “I can defend that amount on many grounds. I think it is modest given the incredible return on investment.”

Supporters say investing in early childhood education leads to lower crime rates and higher lifetime earnings, both of which would be good for California.

Assembly Democrats have also made funding transitional kindergarten a budget priority for the coming year.

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