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New coalition seeks answers to state’s early education woes

Craig Clough | May 29, 2015

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early childhoodDespite a state budget flush with extra billions for education, Gov. Jerry Brown is receiving criticism from some early education advocates for a “strikingly minimal” approach to early education funding.

In response to the growing body of evidence of the importance of preschool, a coalition of academics, lawmakers, community leaders and business leaders has created the Right Start Commission, whose goal is to help California find a blueprint for providing universal early education to the state’s youth.

The commission, formed by the non-profit Common Sense Kids Action, includes Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, Apple Vice President of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson, retired Congressman George Miller and Common Sense Media founder and CEO Jim Steyer.

“Every child deserves a fair start in life, and the only way we can ensure that happens is to provide all kids with the care, support and quality learning experiences they need to be successful from day one,” Steyer said in a press release. “We know that improving early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make. Yet, across the nation millions of American kids are denied this critical opportunity year after year. With the Right Start Commission, Common Sense Kids Action will kick off an effort to reimagine early childhood services in California and create a model for the nation to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed.”

A recent report by the National Institute for Early Education Research found that California lags behind most other states in the quality of its early education programs and serves only 18 percent of the state’s four-year-old children.

The commission said it will offer recommendations that will help make California a leader in early education.

“I think California is the right state to start that,” Miller told The Associated Press. “This commission will help provide a roadmap.”

The forming of the coalition comes amid an increased focus on early education at LA Unified and in California. Just as the California legislature is debating a bill that would guarantee preschool to every low-income child, LA Unified is considering cutting its School Readiness Language Development Program, which provides preschool to 10,000 low-income students.

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