Policymakers often look to California to see what the future will hold. And today, at a time when nearly half of the children in the state are poor and speak a language other than English, a new paper finds the state is not doing enough to ensure these children don’t fall further behind in school.
“It’s hard to imagine what California is going to be like in 20, 30, or 40 years if only 16 percent of California fourth grade Latinos are reading at proficient levels now, and it goes on year after year,” Antonia Lopez, director of Early Childhood Education at the National Council of La Raza says in the report.
And preparation needs to start young. Research shows that from birth, interactions with adults provide a crucial foundation for learning as children grow. California’s efforts to prepare and support its cadre of early childhood educators provide important lessons for other states that will soon face similar demographic trends.
After significant cuts to training and services in early childhood education during the Great Recession in California, the state passed a transitional kindergarten bill in 2011 that established a new grade level in public schools (for 4-year-olds with fall birthdays) and also won $75 million in two federal Race to the Top “Early Learning Challenge” awards.