Author: SOPHIE AUSTIN | Press association

SACRAMENTO – In addition to what they learn at the academic level in kindergarten, students learn everyday activities: how to care for class materials and how to be nice to their peers, according to Golden Empire Kindergarten teacher at Primary School Carl Randazzo.

While developing these skills has become more difficult for students attending online school during the pandemic, sometimes a student entering the first year at Golden Empire did not go to kindergarten at all, Randazzo said. Almost two-thirds of the students at Sacramento are English language students.

“These kids are just starting to climb the hill,” she said. “They need a lot of support to be successful.”

Randazzo had always found it “strange” that kindergarten was not compulsory in California. For now, however, California will not join 20 other states with compulsory kindergarten.

Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, vetoed a law on Sunday night that would order children to attend preschool – whether through home education, public or private school – before entering first grade in a public school.

As with other recent legislative veto, Newsom cited the cost of providing compulsory kindergarten, around $ 268 million a year, which it said was not included in the California budget.

Newsom has supported similar laws in the past. Last year, he signed a package of educational laws, including one that transferred the state to a universal kindergarten from the school year 2025-26. But the state Department of Finance opposed the Compulsory Kindergarten Act, saying it would burden funding, adding up to 20,000 new public school students.

Proponents of compulsory preschool argue that it can help fill the academic opportunities gap for low-income and color learners, and help children develop important social skills before first grade. The law was introduced after primary and secondary school attendance declined during the pandemic and some students struggled with online learning.

According to the State Department of Education, preschool enrollments in California fell by nearly 12% in the 2020-21 academic year compared to the previous year. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nationwide, public school student numbers fell 3 percent between 2020 and 21 compared to the previous school year, with pre-school and pre-school students falling at a faster pace.

Samantha Fee of Citrus Heights said her seven-year-old son was able to solve virtually any math equation in the 2020-21 school year while attending an online kindergarten. But at the end of the school year, he still couldn’t read and didn’t know all his letters.

She said the family made the difficult decision to have her son, who attends the Golden Empire, repeat Kindergarten to prepare him for first grade.

“They learn a lot in the first year – how to sit at a desk, how to raise your hand, and everything that is expected of first grade,” said Fee. “Without kindergarten, they don’t have it.”

Research by the Institute of Economic Policy shows that the disproportions in academic opportunities start already in kindergarten. According to a 2015 study by the American Association of Public Health, children who develop their social and emotional skills by the time they reach preschool age are more likely to go to college.

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