Why Kids Konnect wants to improve California’s plans for universal TK

Assembly Member Bonta poses for a photo with staff and students (web version)

In 2022, the Californian Government accelerated its plans to introduce universal transitional kindergarten (TK). 

I just want to say thank you to our lovely parents for supporting Kids Konnect during the TK transition. I’ve had lots of people come up to me to discuss how TK will impact our preschools and infant centers, and how it could impact our children’s education. 

I pledge to keep you regularly updated on the state of California’s pledge to introduce TK in the Bay Area and how people are responding to proposed changes. Please read on if you would like to know more about TK and how it is impacting child care across the Bay Area. 

This blog gives you an overview of the TK plans and why Kids Konnect is cautiously optimistic about the introduction and believe CA families deserve more options in care and education. 

What is Transitional Kindergarten in California?

TK brings early-learning education into the public school system. The state government aims to include all California four-year-old children by the 2025-26 school year. The TK program makes early-learning child care free for families by introducing a school year before Kindergarten. 

California’s bill is supported by Governor Gavin Newsom following the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, and President Joe Biden’s plans for universal preschool. 

However, Kids Konnect is currently against the proposed plans as it stands today. 

Why is Kids Konnect Against TK?

Kids Konnect supports universal preschool. We’ve been advocating for a fairer early learning system in the Bay Area district for years. Every family deserves access to child care and we work with a series of charities and organizations to make sure this happens. 

While we support the Californian government’s efforts, we do not see suitable preparations being made for a successful roll out. We believe the government is rushing through these proposals and is developing a blanket plan that doesn’t meet the reality of the current situation. 

young girl learning

Our three main issues:

TK in California will put more burden on the families it wants to help

The current plans offer no flexibility for parents. They must drop off and pick up their children at certain times. If there is no after-school support, many parents will have to take time off work to pick their children up or arrange alternative care. The TK plans are designed to help low-income families. However, the pandemic has taught us that low-income families often have less flexible jobs. Not everyone can work from home. This means TK will not be as helpful as people believe.

TK in California will negatively impact a child’s early learning education 

California TK plans include having ratios 1:12 in the 2022-23 school year, and 1:10 from the 2023-24 school year. These ratios are quite high compared to other preschools. Staffing will be incredibly difficult and training the teachers to an adequate standard will take more time than outlined. At the moment, to teach TK in a public school, all you need is a high school diploma. In The State of Preschool Yearbook, TK did not get good grades. It failed 9 out of 10 of the quality benchmarks. Class size and specalized teacher training were the biggest concerns. Without decent investment, Kids Konnect can’t envision the quality of TK improving as they scale up the program. 

TK in California will likely be unreliable 

The current TK plan puts more stress on our struggling public school system. A few weeks ago, entire school districts closed as there weren't enough teachers. Families all over the district were left stranded. These closures arguably hit people with young children hardest. 

This February, the Oakland School Board opted to close seven schools over the next two years. Teachers are also being laid off. In January, 900 San Francisco teachers were not in their classrooms. This is roughly 20% of all teachers in the district. Many teachers were hosting a “sick out” in protest to their lack of protection from the pandemic, and some were genuinely ill. However, the state government is scrambling to find qualified replacements. 

With school closures happening and teachers either being shown pink slips, protesting or not qualified to teach, it's impossible to envision the current system being successful. The TK plan is to increase the number of TK students from 100,000 to 3,000,000. Run the math and they will need to hire an extra 300,000 teachers by September 2023 to meet the target 1:10 ratio. This doesn't seem feasible. 

Kids Konnect believes, unless the plan is redrafted, it will damage the education of our young children. 

What Kids Konnect Proposes For TK in California?

Kids Konnect advocates for universal, affordable child care. 

We propose that the state government gives the federal money they get per child for their extended program straight to the families. This way, families can choose the type of child care they think is best for their children. They can choose the quality of child care that is best for their children.  

How Is Kids Konnect Advocating For Their TK in California Amendment?

Ms Bri, Ms Makinya and Assembly Member Bonta pose for a photo (web version)

Kids Konnect, along with Bananas, invited Assembly Member Mia Bonta to view our San Leandro preschool and infant center. She asked questions about our program, play-based curriculum and how we interact with our families.

Assembly Member Bonta is a previous early learning educator so understands what is needed to provide a high quality TK education. She is hoping to support Kids Konnect in the future. 

Kids Konnect Promises For TK

Whatever happens with TK in California, Kids Konnect promises to provide quality child care to 0-6 year olds in the Bay Area. 

Our schools will: 

  • Be open between 7AM-6PM
  • Ratios of no more than 1:8
  • Subsidized tuition to support low income families