In the name of boosting academic performance and giving struggling kids a better shot at succeeding in first grade, California appears to be headed down the slippery slope to universal preschool, never mind that state voters rejected such a plan when Rob Reiner got it onto the ballot in 2006.
This time they won’t have that opportunity, because the legislature has already passed the bill and sent it to Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk. He’d be wise to veto it.
Note, though, that what’s on offer this time isn’t called preschool. It’s called “transitional kindergarten,” and it’s not yet universal. For the moment, eligible participants will be children whose fifth birthdays fall during the months of September, October, and November. Under longstanding California practice, they may enter regular kindergarten when they are still 4, so long as they turn 5 by December 2. (In most states, the cut-off date is earlier in the autumn.) But a variety of educators and politicians have declared that kids this age aren’t ready for the academic demands of modern kindergarten, so they should first have a year of preschool.