Supporters of early childhood education are praising a decision by Los Angeles Unified School District to keep a special kindergarten program for four-year-olds – even after Governor Brown had threatened to cut off the funding.
L.A. Unified runs transitional kindergarten classes in about a quarter of its elementary schools, for children who will turn five in the fall.
The state is in the process of moving back the kindergarten birthday cutoff date from December to September.
The one-year transitional program is ideal for its four-and-a-half year-old classmembers, says Nora Armenta, who oversees transitional kindergarten at LAUSD.
"We now expect kindergarteners to become emergent readers, for example," she explains. "To be able to really understand mathematics, and quantities, and operations."
Armenta says L.A. Unified put its program on hold after Governor Jerry Brown proposed cutting its funding to help close a budget deficit.
But committees in the state assembly and the senate overturned Brown’s cut, giving LAUSD and other districts the motivation to move ahead with the program in the fall.