California Teachers and Pediatricians Support Proposition 82

California’s kindergarten teachers and pediatricians are backing Proposition 82–the Preschool for All initiative–in the June 6 statewide primary election. The California Kindergarten Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics call Prop 82 a historic opportunity to provide a head start on learning to all four year olds in California.

Prop 82 will guarantee a free–high-quality preschool education for every four year old in California. It will provide trained–credentialed teachers in every classroom and increased efforts to involve parents. By sending more children to quality preschools–Prop 82 will strengthen our schools and improve education for all our kids.

A statewide poll of California kindergarten teachers by Peter D. Hart Research last year showed that 95 percent believe children who have been to preschool are better prepared for school.

"As a kindergarten teacher–I can tell which kids have gone to preschool because I see the difference first hand," said Armando Argandoa–President of the California Kindergarten Association and a kindergarten teacher in Los Angeles. "Preschool gives kids a head start on learning and prepares them socially and academically for kindergarten."

Studies show that children who go to quality preschool read earlier and learn faster. But only 20 percent of our children actually go to quality preschools. According to a recent survey by Fight Crime–Invest in Kids California–the average cost of part-day private preschool in Los Angeles County is $3783. That’s more than one year of college tuition at a California State University campus–and it puts preschool out of reach for too many families.

"Preschool is one of the best investmen’s we can make in our children’s future," said–Dr. Robert Black–President of the American Academy of Pediatrics–California. "Research has shown that preschool helps kids stay on track in school and reduces the need for remedial and special education. Preschool can also help families access preventative health and developmental screenings to keep children healthy."

A 2005 study by the RAND Corporation found that the benefits of a universally available preschool program in California would greatly outweigh the costs. Economists estimated that every dollar invested in quality preschool would generate $2.62 in savings to California’s schools–criminal justice system–and through increased tax revenue to state and local governmen’s. In Los Angeles County–RAND economists estimated preschool could prevent 3,245 kids from dropping out of high school and reduce the number of juvenile arrests by 9,650 per year.

Despite the benefits of preschool–programs often have long waiting lists. A 2005 study found that 73 percent of publicly-funded preschools–which are supposed to serve children from low-income families–in Los Angeles County have waiting lists.

If passed by voters on Tuesday–Prop 82 will fund public–private–and nonprofit preschools–as long as they meet specified quality standards–including well-trained teachers. Parents will be able to choose the program that best fits their needs.

Prop 82 includes strict accountability measures to protect taxpayer dollars. According to the Legislative Analyst–all revenues would be used for the new preschool program and Prop 82 provides audits and criminal penalties–including possible jail time–for misuse of funds. Preschool for All has no cost for 99.4 percent of California taxpayers.

Californians are coming together to support Prop 82. The initiative has been endorsed by an unusual alliance of business groups and labor organizations–along with early childhood educators–seniors–and civic leaders. The California Police Chiefs and the California State Sheriff’s Association–and more than 100 individual police chiefs–sheriffs–and district attorneys–are backing Prop 82 because of preschool’s proven effect on reducing crime. The initiative is also supported by dozens of elected officials–including Senator Dianne Feinstein–State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell–and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

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