California Currents

Parents, other experts named to guide California’s early education reforms

(Photo courtesy of Bananas Inc.)

Parents and family child care providers will help guide California’s revamp of early childhood education, a signature issue of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration.

Newsom announced appointments on Nov. 22 to two groups that will help expand access to early childhood education. The first is a group of nine organizations that will select representatives to develop a Master Plan for Early Learning and Care by next year. The master plan was outlined in the 2019-20 budget as a guide for California to improve its entire early childhood education system, including steps to providing state-subsidized preschool to all low-income 4-year-olds, and eventually all 4-year-olds, regardless of income.

The proposal for an early education master plan echoes California’s famed Master Plan for Higher Education, published in 1960, that provided the blueprint for California’s three-tiered public college and university system.

The organizations that will form the new Early Childhood Action Research Team that will create the master plan include Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, the nonprofit research organization RAND, the research and consulting firm WestEd and a parent-led advocacy organization — Parent Voices — among others.

Newsom also appointed 20 members to the new Early Childhood Policy Council, which will provide recommendations to him, the Legislature and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on early childhood. They will also provide input on the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care.

Members include experts in social services, early childhood education and childhood trauma and health. The council will also include parents and child care providers. State Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris, a nationally recognized expert in childhood trauma, was named the chairwoman of the council.

“Every child in our state should have the resources and support they need to live happy and healthy lives,” said Newsom in a press release. “We are bringing together experts from diverse backgrounds to create a Master Plan for Early Learning and Care that will be rooted in lifting up California’s children and families today, tomorrow and into the future.”

Newsom has made expanding early childhood programs a central feature of his administration. He approved adding about $1.8 billion to the 2019-20 state budget to improve care and education for young children, including offering full-day preschool to more low-income 4-year-olds, building more child care facilities, helping early childhood educators get more training, providing more home nurse visits for low-income infants and toddlers, and a full year of subsidized child care for low-income families who are just beginning to receive cash aid through CalWORKS.

Including parents and child care providers on an Early Childhood Policy Council was one of the key recommendations of the California Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education last year.

“I think it’s a real signal that the governor and the administration really believe in centering the experiences of families,” said Mary Ignatius, statewide organizer of Parent Voices and one of the appointees to the Early Childhood Policy Council. “We really appreciate him validating the expertise of families, particularly low-income families, immigrant families and families of color, and centering their experience to improve the early childhood system in California.”

Story originally published by EdSource.