A new proposed plan by Governor Gavin Newsom would allow more children to attend transitional kindergarten for free.
All 4-year-olds in California would be able to enroll in TK for free under the proposal that is a part of an education spending package due to the state's surprise budget surplus.
The surplus means California has an extra $17.1 billion to spend on things like public education.
"TK will now be fully implemented in the state of California, a $2.1 million investment,” Gov. Newsom said on Wednesday.
It's an investment many parents and local teachers say is critical.
"Very, very beneficial for the students. Those who don't make the cutoff to get into TK now sometimes are at a disadvantage when they do get start kinder,” said kindergarten teacher Erin Saucedo.
Right now, 4-year-old children must have their 5th birthday fall between September 2 and December 2 to be allowed into TK. About 91,100 students are currently enrolled in TK in California.
"I have a three-year-old son, and he’s 2 months younger than his cousin, and his cousin will go to TK based on birthdays and I am paying for private preschool, and the thing with Santa Maria - a lot of families can't afford that,” said parent Laura Harbold.
This is creating a learning disadvantage for many children who come from low-income families.
"This year we had kids who came in and didn't know how to hold a book and turn pages because they are not exposed to that at home, so starting off TK to 4-year-olds would be a huge success for them,” Saucedo said.
According to Newsom, the proposed plan would be fully implemented in the 2024-2025 school year.
An additional $1.1 billion would also go to some school districts to hire more staff.
California does not require children to go to school until the age of 6.
Governor Newsom says he also plans to spend $3.3 billion to expand incentive programs for teachers.