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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #15-27
April 15, 2015
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Marks 50th Anniversary of California State Preschool Program, Emphasizes Importance of Educating Young Children

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today recognized the 50th anniversary of the California State Preschool Program and congratulated the program for giving young children from disadvantaged backgrounds the tools to succeed in school, careers, and college.

"We now know that 90 percent of brain development occurs before the age of five years old, which is why early education is so important," Torlakson said. "Young children have a natural curiosity and sense of wonder that needs to be engaged and developed so they are fully prepared to learn when they enter kindergarten. Over the past 50 years, our state preschool program has done exactly that and so much more, helping prepare millions of California children from low-income families for school."

The California State Preschool Program (CSPP) funds preschool for 200,000 three- and four-year-olds from families earning below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. The California Department of Education (CDE) oversees the program and ensures compliance with state standards.

The program, which was modeled on the federal Head Start program, was created by state legislation passed in 1965. CSPP has an $836 million budget for the current fiscal year.

Torlakson, a strong proponent of expanding early education in California, said that investing in preschool "pays huge dividends down the road."

"We know from a variety of studies that for each dollar invested in pre-kindergarten programs, society saves $7, because students who have experienced these programs are more likely to finish high school, obtain good jobs and avoid the criminal justice system," he said.

Torlakson also encouraged parents, teachers, administrators and communities throughout California to celebrate the state's youngest learners this week as part of National Week of the Young Child, officially designated as April 12-18.

The CSPP is administered by the CDE's Early Education & Support Division, which oversees a number of programs to support young children. For more information, visit the CDE's Child Care and Development Programs. There are also a number of downloadable publications and other early education resources on the division's Publications Web page.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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