A Flurry of Early Education Bills Hits Sacramento
The start of California’s 2019-2020 legislative session saw three proposals aimed at expanding access to preschool for the state’s young children. The trio of bills was introduced by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) Tuesday. Together, they would increase the number of children eligible for free preschool, improve school facilities, and boost teacher pay.
AB123 would expand access to free preschool for some 100,000 low and middle-income households in California. Under AB 123, a 4-year-old whose family earns less than 70% of the state median income ($63,083 for a family of four) would qualify. The legislation would come at an annual cost of at least $1.4 billion per year.
AB 124 would provide new funding for early education facilities and classrooms.
AB 125 aims to boost teacher retention by increasing the reimbursement rates for preschool teachers.
McCarty noted that early childhood education is a major arbiter of later academic achievement. He added that his bills stand a greater chance of success under Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom, who made early childhood education a priority during the campaign.
Newsom, however, poured a bit of cold water on the prospect of universal preschool this week, at least for now.
“Even if you wanted to provide universal preschool, you could not achieve that in the immediate term,” he told the Sacramento Bee. “It would take years and years to build out that infrastructure.”
In addition to McCarty’s early education bills, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago introduced Assembly Bill 2, which would provide free community college for first-time, full-time community students for a period of two years.