Early Edge California convened meetings of its Educator and Parent Advisory Groups in January and February 2021. During the meetings, our team presented the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care (MPELC) and related legislation, Dual Language Learner (DLL) identification and related legislation, and challenges associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Universal Transitional Kindergarten
The MPELC recommended that California expand transitional kindergarten (TK) to all 4-year-olds. Early Edge is sponsoring AB 22 (McCarty), which would implement this recommendation over the next several years. Parents in both our Spanish- and English-language Advisory Groups were very enthusiastic about the possibility of Universal TK. “I think TK is the best thing in the world that they could have come up with,” stated one parent whose daughter had the opportunity to attend TK. Parents were eager to see a high-quality program, noting that teacher-to-student ratios and a developmentally appropriate curriculum were very important to them in choosing where to send their 4-year-olds.
Like parents, teachers and providers were largely supportive of expanding TK. “I don’t know a kindergarten teacher who doesn’t recognize the benefit of TK,” one participant stated. The group discussed AB 22’s proposal that would provide eligible parents with a choice between California State Preschool Program (CSPP) and TK for their children. Learn more about AB 22.
Early Edge is also sponsoring AB 1363 (Rivas), which would create a standard definition of the term “dual language learner” and a process for identifying DLLs in subsidized Early Learning programs. Many parents supported the goals of AB 1363, citing the benefits of bilingualism including cultural pride, the ability to communicate with extended family members, and better employment opportunities. “I would be thrilled that the school is acknowledging that dual language learners need specified supports,” said one parent. Parents shared experiences they and their children had had with being identified as an English Learners in school and emphasized the need for language surveys to be supportive and assets-based.
Like parents, educators indicated that they saw the value in DLL identification and wanted to ensure equity in the identification process. Educators who already teach in settings with standardized DLL identification programs spoke highly of the process. “Family language interviews have really impacted my planning,” stated one preschool teacher. Overall, participants believe that a system for DLL identification would help them better serve children and families, as long as it is assets-based. Learn more about AB 1363.
Parent Advisory Group members discussed the Governor’s budget proposal to provide funding to address learning loss. Parents were supportive of the Administration’s learning loss proposals, including the possibility of offering summer school or longer school days. Parents also indicated that individual or small group tutoring would be helpful, as would providing resources to parents to help them make sure their kids are prepared for school in the fall. Many parents indicated that a top priority was for children to have the opportunity to develop social-emotional skills in-person with other children. “I would like a program that is not strictly academic but [provides] opportunities to play with others in group settings [and] helps with social emotional,” one parent shared.
For their part, educators indicated that they continue to have ongoing challenges with adequate funding for cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment, and extra staff to manage smaller group sizes during the pandemic. Providers who have stayed open shared their frustration that they have not been prioritized for professional grade personal protective equipment or the vaccine. “I would like to see acknowledgement” of the support they have provided, one provider stated.
Early Edge California always values the insights we receive from our Advisory Group members. We will be considering and incorporating their feedback in our legislative work and advocacy as we move forward in the legislative cycle. Thank you to all who took the time to participate in our meetings!