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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-77
October 5, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Joins Governor for Early Childhood Legislation Announcements

FRESNO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond joined Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders at a press conference today at Sunset Elementary School in Fresno for the signing of legislation marking historic and unprecedented investment in early childhood education that will expand opportunities for every child across the state.

Of the bills signed today, Assembly Bill 1363, sponsored by Superintendent Thurmond and authored by Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-Arleta), will develop procedures for state preschool contractors to identify and report data on dual-language learners. As part of the Governor’s $123.9 billion pre-K and K–12 education package, California will be providing free, high-quality, inclusive pre-kindergarten for all four-year-olds beginning in the 2022–23 school year, with full implementation by 2025–26.

“We know from research and from experience that the early years are critical to support a child’s learning and development,” said Thurmond. “Universal pre-K is a first of its kind effort and California’s opportunity to ensure every child—regardless of background, race, ZIP code, immigration status, or income level—gets the fair start they need and deserve on their path to success. I’m proud to have sponsored the Universal Transitional Kindergarten legislation and to partner with the Governor and the Legislature on implementing this major step forward.”

The Governor’s plan includes $10 million to expand dual-language immersion programs; $300 million to increase the number of state preschool or transitional kindergarten programs and provide additional pre-K teacher training; and $490 million to support the building and renovation of state preschool, transitional kindergarten, and kindergarten facilities. The plan will phase in 200,000 new childcare slots by 2025–26, dramatically expanding access for families.

“Everyone knows we've been saying this for decades: When our children have access to early education, they are more likely to graduate, go on to post-secondary education, and they won’t drop out of school, yet this has been a goal that has eluded us,” said Thurmond. “It is ironic that we meet this goal while facing the toughest challenge of our lifetime—the COVID-19 pandemic. But the pandemic has taught us that we must accelerate our efforts at closing learning gaps. I am grateful to the Governor and to the members of the Legislature who brought these great resources forward. You understand that now is the time to accelerate those efforts so we can close learning gaps and build a system of education that’s better than what we had before, and that we provide great things for all six million students and families in the state of California.”

Before closing his remarks, Superintendent Thurmond pushed his statewide effort to secure donations with the goal of providing one million books for students and their families. This book drive happens in conjunction with a statewide literacy campaign launched last month that includes a task force working toward the goal of helping all California students reach the goal of literacy by third grade, by the year 2026. Superintendent Thurmond and the California Department of Education are working closely with First 5 California and are seeking further partnerships to reach the goal of providing one million books to students and families.

Those interested in participating in the literacy effort, helping with logistics (including collection and distribution of books), and wishing to learn more should email Additional details about the statewide book drive and an online portal for donations are forthcoming.

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

Last Reviewed: Friday, June 14, 2024
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