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Early Childhood Education In California Could See Big Changes Under Gavin Newsom

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom is promising universal preschool for the next generation, and with Democrats winning a supermajority in the state Legislature, education in California is likely to see some big changes.

Newsom's plan includes preschool for all children, which estimated to cost around $2 billion a year.

Susanna Loeb, an education scholar who’s investigated the state of pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education in California, says the state falls far behind others in providing consistent, high-quality early childhood learning. She thinks universal preschool will help.

“It appears to have long-term benefits for kids,” Loeb said. “There is every reason to think that it is an important step toward reducing achievement gaps and improving outcomes for California students.”

The state is home to a little over 600,000 children under the age of five who are at or near the poverty level, and who would be the greatest beneficiaries of universal preschool.

Newsom has also promised a statewide data system that would track the progress of California students from early childhood through college, something that Loeb says has been neglected.

“We don't follow through early childhood to know what they are receiving [and] how they are developing,” Loeb said. “Other states are doing a better job of it.”

The data system is estimated to cost up to $3 million annually.

Newsom hasn't yet revealed how he's going to pay for these programs.

Nadine Sebai

Former Temporary State Government Reporter

Nadine Sebai was Capital Public Radio’s temporary state government reporter. Nadine is also a co-editor of Local Matters, a weekly newsletter showcasing investigative and watchdog news stories from local publications across the country.  Read Full Bio 

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