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Op-Ed: Preschool should remain out of public hands

April 29, 2014|By Marji Golden

I am compelled to get the word out regarding a Senate bill that could adversely affect private preschools in California. The bill is labeled SB 837 or Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2014. This bill is written with good intentions, but the implementation is a problem. The bill written by state Sen. Darrell Steinberg is asking for approval to provide free preschool to all 4-year-olds — a noble idea. Because of how the author and co-authors have chosen to fund the bill, it places these 4-year-olds in our public school system. I would imagine any person in the field of early childhood development; teacher, psychologist and doctor would oppose this bill.

The bill states that through longitudinal studies it has been found that those children who attended quality preschool programs had higher graduation rates, college enrollment rates and earning rates. This is what preschool educators have provided for years. Four-year-olds still need help developing social skills and gaining confidence. They need space inside and out allowing them to explore their environment. This will not happen at an elementary school. Elementary schools predominantly have blacktop as the surface outside. Inside the classroom, the environment will not be warm and inviting as in a quality preschool and won’t have the supplies needed to create and invent.

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What about working parents that need an after-school program? After a certain time of day, the young children will more than likely be mixed in with the older children (as it is now). Again, not appropriate. The funding cannot be used to upgrade facilities for 4-year-olds; meaning they will make do with what they have in place, which is suited for 5 years and up. Let’s also talk about whether or not your local school has space to house a whole new age of children. Will class sizes grow in the other grades to make space for the younger children?

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