Dear Friends:
Welcome to EdSource's new monthly newsletter on early learning!

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Since EdSource has made early childhood education a focus of our work over the past year, we've produced more than 70 stories explaining and exploring the challenges facing the state's littlest learners -- and those responsible for educating them. 
Early childhood education has emerged as a major state and national issue. Last fall, California added an entirely new grade -- transitional kindergarten, a pre-kindergarten year for some 4-year-olds. And President Barack Obama made universal preschool a central proposal in his State of the Union address, even as Head Start programs were cut as a result of the federal budget stalemate. 

We know that it can be hard to sort through all of the information bombarding your inbox. Our goal is not to add to the clutter but rather to act as a clearinghouse on issues and programs most closely tied to the education of our youngest children at a crucial stage of their development.    


We invite you to become a charter subscriber at no cost by signing up today.  


And we encourage you to contact us with any ideas or issues you think deserve greater coverage.

Best regards,


Louis Freedberg
Executive Director

Lillian Mongeau
Early Education Reporter

Subscribe                                                                                       January 2014 Issue 1
Universal Preschool Coming to California?
Both chambers of the California State Legislature have named expanding transitional kindergarten to all 4-year-olds in the state, effectively creating a universal public preschool program, as a top priority in 2014. Read our stories below for details on what the Senate and Assembly are proposing -- and on Gov. Brown's hesitation to support those proposals. 
Brown's budget excludes transitional kindergarten expansion

While Democratic leaders in both houses of the state legislature have cited expanding transitional kindergarten as a top priority in the coming year, Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed 2014-2015 budget did not mention the program -- or include additional funding for early education of any kind.


"The budget speaks for itself," Brown said in response to questions about the transitional kindergarten expansion.


Read the full story here.
Senate Dems introduce bill to expand transitional kindergarten
Following the introduction of a bill to expand transitional kindergarten to all 4-year-olds, Michelle Cazel-Mayo's classroom gets a visit from the media.
Credit: All photos by Lillian Mongeau

Calling early education a top priority, Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that would create a new grade level -- a pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds -- in California's public schools. 


"This is at the top of the list. I can't think of anything more important," Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg said at a news conference announcing the new bill. 


Money to pay for the program would come from revenues set aside under the voter-approved Proposition 98, which sets a minimum funding guarantee for the state's schools.


Gov. Jerry Brown had no comment on the new bill, a spokesperson for his office said.  


Read the full story here.   

Early education is budget priority for Calif. Assembly Democrats

Greatly expanding transitional kindergarten so that it is available to all 4-year-olds is listed among the top fiscal priorities of Assembly Democrats in the coming year.


The proposal -- part of a larger call to beef up funding for early education programs in the state -- is listed as one of seven priorities identified in a "budget blueprint" for next year prepared by the California State Assembly Democratic Caucus.  


"If we are talking about wanting to close the achievement gap then the evidence is overwhelming that the best way to do that is early education," said Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance.  


Read the full story on EdSource. 


Meanwhile, in Washington ....  
President Barack Obama's proposal to help states offer universal, publicly funded preschool is unlikely to become a reality in 2014. Still, it has prompted lawmakers to introduce legislation at a federal and state level. And the Democrats and Republicans in Washington seem to have finally agreed on something: Head Start.
Head Start funding boost included in federal spending bill
Early Head Start teacher Amy Chapelle supervises outdoor art time at a Hayward program.

In a startling display of bipartisanship, Democrats and Republicans have agreed to provide Head Start with a $1 billion funding boost, thereby restoring all funds that Head Start had lost as a result of the across-the-board sequester cuts.  


The federal child care and education program was one of the winners in the $1.1 trillion spending plan. The new plan allocates $8.6 billion to Head Start, after the program had lost an estimated 57,000 slots for children under the 5 percent cuts triggered by the sequester, according to Education Week.

Read the full story on EdSource Today.
Federal preschool bill highlights need to improve Calif. program
Proposed federal legislation calls for an expansion of public preschools like the Creative Montessori Children's Learning Center in East Palo Alto. 

Legislation introduced in Congress to expand publicly funded preschool programs highlights the need to improve standards for such programs in California, advocates say.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled the Strong Start for America's Children Act on November 13, following President Barack Obama's call for a new federal grant program for states wishing to create or expand their public preschool programs. 


The new legislation lays out a dozen qualifications state preschool programs would have to meet meet or be working toward to be eligible for funding. California's state-funded preschool program falls short on most of them, according to leading preschool advocates.  


Read the full story on EdSource Today. 

Early Education News Briefs
Report: California child care costs among 'least affordable'
Experts say: Early math matters

Policy watch: States approve early education legislation
California ranks as the sixth least affordable state for infant and toddler child care and the 16th least affordable for 4-year-old care, according to a report by Child Care Aware. Affordability was calculated by dividing the average cost of care by the state median income.

Greg Duncan, an economist and University of California Irvine education professor, is a national expert on the importance of strong early math skills. His research has become a cornerstone of the movement to boost math instruction in preschool.

Read Duncan's interview with EdSource.
More than three dozen laws supporting early learning were enacted in 25 states this year, according to the Education Commission of the States. The commission says this is evidence that states are moving ahead on early education against a backdrop of inaction at a federal level. 

Read the story by Education Week.

Sneak Peek
Each month we will share one photo to give you a sneak peek into upcoming EdSource Today reports. While covering the changes expected in early elementary math as a result of the new Common Core State Standards, we caught a boy at Black Butte Elementary School in Shasta County admiring the 3-D figures he and his classmates built during a geometry lesson.

Lillian Mongeau covers early education for EdSource. Her work has appeared on The New York Times SchoolBook and in The Hechinger Report, as well as on KQED Radio's The California Report. Before becoming a reporter, Lillian was a 7th grade English teacher on the Texas-Mexico border with Teach For America. She took all the photos in this newsletter. 
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Produced with support from the Heising-Simons Foundation.
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