May 13, 2021

Should CA offer transitional kindergarten to all 4-year-olds?

Zoe Graham on Unsplash

Early childhood advocates, lawmakers and the governor are pushing to gradually expand transitional kindergarten (TK) to all the state’s 4-year-olds. But the moves are raising issues, such as the viability of the child care system and whether expanded TK might be too academic for younger 4-year-olds.

Often described as a bridge between preschool and kindergarten, transitional kindergarten began in California in 2012. The program, often referred to as TK, now serves about 100,000 children, most of whom turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2, narrowly missing the cutoff for traditional kindergarten.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced recently that he plans to use an unanticipated surplus in the general fund to phase in universal TK as part of his annual May budget revision. Starting in 2022-23, the program would roll out in annual increments, first to children turning 5 by March 2, then in 2023-24 for birthdays by July 2 and finally in 2024-25 for full implementation at an additional annual cost of $2.7 billion.

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