Dear Editor:

Gov. Gavin Newsom's bold proposal of $1.8 billion for early childhood programs is the focus we need to close the achievement and readiness gap in California.

Research has shown that students who were not proficient in reading by the end of third grade were four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers. Furthermore, 88 percent of students who failed to earn a high school diploma were struggling readers in third grade.

One of the key barriers is the "word gap," whereas, by 3 years of age, children from low socioeconomic backgrounds are upwards of 4-30 million words behind children from high socioeconomic families. The Brookings Institution conducted a report in 2012 that listed preschool programs as providing the most promise for increasing children's school readiness. They concluded that kindergarten teachers find it easier to teach children if they have pre-academic skills.

Therefore, the equalizer is the expansion of universal pre-school and all-day kindergarten programs. In fact, both are important components of Assemblymember Kevin McCarty's (CA-7) Pre-K for All Legislative Package, which includes AB-123 - Pre-K for All, AB 124 - Preschool Facilities development and funding, as well as AB 125 - Reimbursement Rate Program, which will benefit teachers. Each bill would ensure that thousands of 3 and 4-year olds that miss out on preschool have access to a quality education -- hopefully, the Legislature and governor agree.

Kareem Gongora

SBCSS County Committee on School District Organization, member

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