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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #23-35
May 12, 2023
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Showcases Universal Transitional Kindergarten and Programs for Early Learners in Hayward Unified for Teacher Appreciation Week

HAYWARD—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond visited Burbank Elementary School in the Hayward Unified School District on Friday, May 12, 2023, to tour Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and other early learning programs. Thurmond spent time reading to students and participating in indoor and outdoor classroom activities. This visit was part of his school tour series to showcase programs and efforts fundamental to learning recovery and providing equitable opportunities for all students.

“I want to thank our sponsor, Capstone, for their participation in my book drive and the donation of books they made to students today here at Burbank Elementary as well as providing the generous gift bags for teachers today—nothing is more important than celebrating our teachers this week and throughout the year,” said Thurmond. “We are especially grateful to our TK teachers and those who are supporting all of our earliest learners, as they are providing the foundation for building literacy and other skills that will serve students throughout their lives.”

Thurmond has long been a champion of high-quality early learning opportunities, including universal access to TK for all four-year-old children by the 2025–26 school year. The State Superintendent’s Transforming California Schools Initiative plan laid the foundation for universal access to preschool for three- and four-year-old children through a $300 million investment for planning and implementation grants for Universal PreKindergarten and Universal TK, and $250 million was invested in the Inclusive Early Education Expansion Program, which includes funds for professional development to help teachers, administrators, and paraeducators understand how to best introduce reading and prereading to our youngest learners and their families.

Transitional Kindergarten programs are expanding in California over the next few years, with more four-year-olds able to attend each year. Children who were born between September 2, 2018, and April 2, 2019, are eligible to register now in TK for the coming 2023–24 school year. The benefits of TK include higher achievement in math and reading throughout elementary school, increased likelihood of graduating from high school, and increased likelihood of earning a college degree.

Transitional Kindergarten is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that will be available for free to all four-year-old children, regardless of family income, at full implementation (in 2025–26). The program can be part-time or full day and includes social–emotional learning and play-based learning.

In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, Thurmond spent time with and honored teachers in the early learning programs.

Thurmond has been traveling the state, leading teacher recruitment and efforts to boost enrollment in Universal TK. Thurmond has hosted recruitment fairs, launched a public service announcement, and helped teaching candidates access $20,000 scholarships. He has created a new one-stop information and referral system to connect candidates to scholarships, teacher credentialing programs, and school and district employers with current vacancies. Those interested in becoming an educator in California can email or call the hotline at 916‑322‑3051.

As part of this school visit, Thurmond read to a TK classroom and a dual-immersion preschool classroom at Burbank Elementary to underscore his Reading by Third Grade by 2026 Initiative. California is home to a culturally and linguistically diverse population of six million students and one million early learners. The ability to read by third grade remains a key benchmark in measuring and predicting student success, and Thurmond is committed to supporting all students as they develop reading skills in English and languages in addition to English.

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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, May 12, 2023
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