We want to share with you some important updates regarding AB 123 (McCarty), the Pre-K for All Act. After receiving overwhelming bipartisan support in the Assembly, AB 123 was referred to the Senate and is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Committee on Education on July 10, 2019.
We are excited that the 2019/2020 California State Budget signed by Governor Newsom takes a strong step toward universal preschool, starting with expanding access in the state’s highest-need communities. Key provisions include:
- Extending eligibility for state preschool to all 4-year-olds in neighborhoods where more than 80% of children are eligible for free or reduced price meals. This new community eligibility provision – which is based on AB 123 – will make subsidized preschool accessible for the first time to children living in low-income communities regardless of family income
- Funding for an additional 10,000 state preschool spaces
- Funding to develop an Early Learning Master Plan to achieve universal preschool and comprehensive, quality, and affordable childcare
Given the reality that the budget did not include funding for the other provision of AB 123 to significantly increase preschool teacher pay and provide scholarships to support teachers in obtaining higher education, Assemblymember McCarty has made the decision to amend AB 123 to remove the fiscal impacts and express the intent of the Legislature to advance toward high-quality Pre-K for All, in alignment with the Early Learning Master Plan. This will ensure that AB 123 is aligned with the Administration’s objectives and can guide future legislative efforts.
The amended language expresses the intent of the Legislature to:
- Adopt universal preschool and, by January 1, 2025, ensure that all children who are not enrolled in transitional kindergarten have access to preschool the year before they enter kindergarten, contingent upon the appropriation of sufficient funding
- Progressively decrease the community eligibility provision threshold as a means of achieving universal preschool
- Assure pay parity between K-12 teachers and lead preschool teachers with commensurate qualifications and provide scholarship support for early learning teachers to achieve higher qualifications
We worked collaboratively with Assemblymember McCarty’s office, our AB 123 co-sponsors, and Labor organizations to promote a bill that would expand access to high-quality preschool and support preschool teachers in reaching higher qualifications and pay parity with K-12 educators. We are still very committed to these outcomes in our future work.
We look forward to continuing to advocate with our partners for better training, pay, and support for our Early Learning teachers, and increased access to high-quality Early Learning programs for all California children.