LAUSD Announces New Transitional Kindergarten Expansion Plan

LOS ANGELES (June 15, 2015) – Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines today announced that the District is moving forward with a new Transitional Kindergarten Expansion Plan. The plan is intended to provide an alternate early education program in schools with closed School Readiness Language Development Program classrooms.

“I believe the foundation of language and literacy for young children begins with a structured, developmentally appropriate, high quality early childhood education program,” Cortines said. “This is particularly true for our low-income students who might not have had access to early education in the past. These programs play a fundamental role in long term success of our students and it is imperative we continue to make them available to our highest-need students.”

Approximately $14.3 million will be allocated to the expansion plan this year to serve the students, who otherwise might be enrolled in School Readiness Language Development Program. The plan will be instituted in 117 recently-closed School Readiness Language Development Program locations. The remaining 173 schools will transition to this program in the 2016-17 school year.

“I am thrilled that we have prevailed in our efforts to continue to serve some of our youngest learners in the LAUSD,” Board Member Bennett Kayser said. “This district, state and nation, however must do more, vastly more, to get all children to kindergarten on equal footing and well-prepared for what should be a lifetime of learning. As a teacher I know that it is not a schools-to-prison pipeline but a Pampers-to-prison pipeline that we must interrupt.”

"When I first suggested that the District explore offering TK to younger four year olds, regardless of whether or not we could receive ADA for them, I was hopeful that the District would be able to develop and implement such a plan but I recognized that there were challenges outside of the District’s control, Board Member Mónica Ratliff said. “Superintendent Cortines and Ms. Maureen Diekmann should be commended for promptly pulling together this thoughtful and ambitious plan. This would not be happening without their strong commitment to early education. In addition, I am thrilled that legislators, the Governor, advocates, and our own District staff have been willing to work together to ensure that this plan could become a reality for the 2015-16 school year.”

The Short and Long-Term Goals of the Transitional Kindergarten Expansion Plan are:
• To provide quality preschool seats for low-income children who turn 5 after December 2.
• To provide structured and unstructured opportunities for children to build socialization and communication skills with other children and with adults.
• To lower the dropout rate and to increase high school graduation rates by cultivating at a very young age, personal qualities that improve children’s resilience, confidence and persistence to a task.
• To improve student success in A-G course (college-prep) requirements by setting a strong language and literacy foundation for the youngest students.

“The creation of the new Transitional Kindergarten Expansion Plan- - which is a six hour program -- will provide additional seats for low-income four-year-olds and offer teaching positions for certificated (teachers) and classified (teaching assistants) staff,” the District’s Early Childhood Education Division Executive Director Maureen S. Diekmann said. “We will implement this plan over the next two years and my team will work in close collaboration with the Local District Instructional Directors.”

Diekmann added, “Not all schools with closed School Readiness Language Development Program classrooms will be able to participate in this program, but we have made sure that there are enough schools in any given area so that the same number of low-income children can be supported.”

The Early Childhood Education Division will work with principals, and local communities to initiate this program at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.

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Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766