California voter sentiment highlights increasing priority of early ed
- Nearly 90% of California voters are seeking a governor who will commit to providing more funds for early-childhood education, according to a recent poll in California.
- The Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Center for Early Learning, whose goal is ensure that early childhood education is a key campaign issue, conducted the poll as part of its “Choose Children 2018” advocacy campaign.
- The results show that many California parents say they are struggling with the high cost of and limited access to quality care and education for their children. Over 75% of the respondents said they are in favor of funding solutions, at least in part, from taxes generated by the state’s marijuana industry.
Early-childhood education continues to be a broader campaign issue in state and national elections because straddles two important parental concerns: the need for accessible high-quality childcare and the need to improve educational outcomes. While high school graduation rates and college attendance also draw a lot of interest, research shows that these outcomes are, to some degree, impacted by children's early learning experiences.
Early-childhood education is also an issue of educational equity. Since most brain development occurs before students enroll in kindergarten, the physical and intellectual needs of these youngest citizens impact school systems to a great degree. Students who enter to kindergarten without basic literacy skills and a limited vocabulary struggle to catch up later in their school careers, which impacts test scores and other educational outcomes along the way.
The federally funded Head Start program and other state and local early learning programs tend to enroll only a fraction eligible children. But school administrators can become more directly involved in advocating for more funding to support these programs or to add more pre-k classrooms under the auspices of public education. Even summer transition programs for entering kindergartners have been found to offer some benefit. With all the challenges many of these children face, especially in low-income communities, expanding high-quality early learning opportunities is a goal that leaders from multiple sectors can support. Under the new Every Student Succeeds Act guidelines, perhaps more help will be available.