Some Silicon Valley schools outperform states in early education

Schools are implementing a statewide campaign for universal transitional kindergarten this year, but the school district has more to do before all of Santa Clara County’s youngest learners can sit in classrooms. you need to do

California is promoting broad access to Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Initiative passed in 2021. This grade level is a stepping stone between preschool and kindergarten. The plan will begin gradual enrollment of the state’s youngest students, starting September 2, 2022 with the student turning five years old between February 2, 2023.

The hope is to enroll all students ages 4 and up by the 2025-26 school year. Experts say the challenge is staffing this extra grade, and teacher shortages are already a problem across the education system.

Every child deserves quality early childhood education, but this requires qualified teachers, said Heidi Emberling, interim chief program officer of early childhood nonprofit FIRST 5. I’m here. TK educators are required to earn an additional 24 credits in Early Childhood Education in addition to their standard teaching qualifications.

Emberling told the San Jose Spotlight: “This is the first year of his TK expansion, so it will take him four years to figure this out.”

Santa Clara County school superintendent Mary Ann Dewan, a columnist for the San Jose Spotlight, said the state is trying to address the staffing shortage by funding teacher training programs. Some school districts in the county are looking for ways to build subsidized housing to attract teachers and are looking to subsidize this need through bond measures. Grants are general funding based on enrollment and attendance and are also available to assist districts in repurposing classrooms to accommodate younger students.

Dewan added that the long-term payoff is clear, and participating in an early childhood education program like TK makes students more likely to graduate from high school on time. Early childhood programs also help with language development, social-emotional learning, and physical development.

In Santa Clara County, many school districts have already introduced this new requirement.

The Santa Clara Unified School District has offered an interim kindergarten since 2012. The district expanded TK classrooms from 8 to 11 this year, and enrollment increased from his 140 to his 210, interim superintendent Gary Waddell said. The district is working to find qualified teachers to continue increasing the number of TK classrooms, he said. Needs improvement too.

“What we can do early in a child’s life to set them on a positive path and build a strong foundation can actually benefit their careers in school and throughout their lives.” Waddell told the San Jose Spotlight.

The Universal TK classroom also forms a strong base for English Language Learners (ELLs) at Alum Rock Union School District, said Superintendent Hilaria Bauer. From 2015 a provisional kindergarten class was established in the district.

“In 2015, our ELL population was about 70%, many of whom were long-term English learners. increase. “It all starts with TK.”

Bauer said the district is investing in early education by converting César Chavez Elementary School into an early learning center, which is under construction and will open later this year. The early learning center aims to alleviate the demand for childcare and early education among working-class families in East San Jose.

“We want to encourage more parents to enroll their four-year-olds in quality programs with certified early learning teachers,” said Bauer. “It really makes a difference.”

Contact Loan-Anh Pham: [email protected] Or follow @theLoanAnhLede on Twitter.

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