Atkin, Catherine

Preschool California is a nonprofit advocacy organization working to increase access to high-quality preschool for all of California’s children, starting with those who need it most. It brings together K-12 educators, business leaders, parents, labor, law enforcement, early care and education providers, faith-based institutions, community leaders and others to achieve this goal.

New Latino Voter Poll Finds Strong Support for Candidates Who Back Preschool

By Catherine Atkin

Each week, we hear new reports about candidates’ efforts to reach out to the Latino community, which accounts for 1 in 5 registered voters, and their messages about creating jobs, fixing our schools and building a brighter future for California.

Left out of these proposals, however, is an important first step in education reform – providing access to high-quality early learning programs that help lay the foundation for our children to start school ready to learn and succeed. This is a critical issue for Latino children, who account for more than half of all children under age 5, and who by 2025, will make up almost half of the new labor force in California.   

SB 1381 and Transition Kindergarten

By Catherine Atkin

Next month, more than 450,000 children across the state will enter kindergarten. Although most of these new students will be 5 years old, nearly a quarter of the entering kindergarteners will be only 4 years old, some of the youngest students in the nation.  During this week’s final deliberations, the Assembly Appropriations Committee will hear SB 1381, sponsored by Senator Joe Simitian. If the bill passes and continues to move forward, eventually receiving the governor’s signature, it will help to ensure that all of California’s kindergarteners enter school ready to succeed.

Early Learning Key Part of Race to the Top Education Reform Conversation

By Catherine Atkin

Earlier this week, California joined the competition for federal Race to the Top education reform funds, and early childhood education advocates were pleased to see that early learning is a key component of the state education reform agenda that is laid out in the application.

In vying for its share of the $4.35 billion in federal funds, California mentions early learning repeatedly throughout its 129-page application – a recognition that early learning programs play an important role in making the state competitive for a share of the funds.

Advocates were also happy to see that among the 800 local educational agencies that signed agreements to address each of the Race to the Top reform areas, nearly a third also committed to improving the quality of early childhood education by helping students make better transitions between preschool and kindergarten, a voluntary element of the agreements.

A Key Step for California’s Youngest Learners

By Catherine Atkin
Preschool California

Earlier this week, early learning advocates were excited to see Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger take a critical step forward for California’s youngest learners by signing an executive order to create the California State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care.

Establishing the council is critical because it positions California to receive millions in federal funds for early education programs.

The new council will ensure efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in California’s early childhood education system. It will lead efforts to develop a high-quality, comprehensive system and strengthen state-level coordination and collaboration among California’s early learning and child care programs.