OPINION: Funding early childhood education, funding California’s future

By John Deasy and Celia C. Ayala

There’s little doubt that California today is facing monumental challenges. High unemployment, a stubborn recession and a gargantuan budget deficit are staring us in the eyes.

It’s quite evident that tough decisions must be made to right the ship. Gov. Jerry Brown began that process when he recently released his state budget proposal. Overall, it was a good start with one glaring exception: his plan to shift $1 billion in state and local Prop. 10 funds to balance the books. Doing so, in our opinion, would be a monumental mistake that would hurt education and health services for children statewide.

When voters approved Proposition 10 in 1998 by imposing a new tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products, they did so because they supported the establishment of the much needed early education and social service programs for children age 0-5.

Los Angeles County benefits in many ways through a variety of children’s health and early childhood programs funded by the First 5 LA Commission, which administers Prop. 10 funding locally. One of those programs has touched the lives of more than 40,000 four-year-olds, who have been able to receive a quality preschool education.

Brown has proposed shifting $1 billion from the reserve accounts of state and local First 5 commissions. The governor is also proposing shifting 50 percent of future state and local First 5 commission revenues to the state’s general fund for early childhood services. Should that succeed, thousands of children – especially those from underserved communities – will not receive a quality preschool education to better prepare them for kindergarten.

No matter where you stand in the political spectrum, you should be concerned because one fact is clear: the future of our state will largely depend on our children’s ability to compete in an unforgiving world economy, and early education plays an important role in helping children gain the critical thinking skills they need to succeed. The governor’s budget proposal would defeat that objective.

We could not agree more with Nobel-Prize winning economist and Professor James Heckman. In a letter to the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Reform, he calls for investing in high-quality early education or risk putting “our country’s future in peril by producing a deficit in human capital that will take generations to correct.”

In Los Angeles County, it is sad that preschool education is already out of reach for about half of four-year-olds, mainly due to the lack of availability. That should concern all of us, because research has shown children who attend a high-quality preschool education enjoy greater academic achievement, are more likely to graduate from high school and college and are less likely to be involved in crime.

And according to a report from the RAND Corporation, African American and Latino students have lower levels of proficiency in several academic measures than white and Asian students. Preschool appears to be a promising solution to narrow such achievement gaps.

As such, it is imperative for Brown and the legislature to not take any action that would hurt early education efforts. This is especially important if we want to level the playing field for children who come from disadvantaged homes. Studies show at least half of the educational achievement gap between poor children and their more advantaged peers is evident in kindergarten, because many of them do not attend preschool.

That is crucial because children who start behind in kindergarten often remain behind throughout their entire school experience, which inhibits learning. This is one contributing factor to the fact that about 35 percent of Los Angeles students don’t graduate from high school.

We urge Brown and legislators to support efforts to even the playing field – not the opposite – and to provide a strong foundation for children by not threatening funds that support early childhood education. After all, today’s preschoolers are our country’s future leaders and taxpayers.

Simply put, we cannot afford to balance the budget on the backs of our young children. We urge Gov. Brown and the Legislature to not reduce Proposition 10 funding. Doing so would have lasting consequences that threaten not only our children’s future, but that of our state.

John Deasy is the incoming Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school system in the nation. Celia C. Ayala is the CEO of Los Angeles Universal Preschool, which funds high-quality preschool programs across Los Angeles County.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons


  1. Jennifer Quinonez says:

    Reasons why High Quality Preschool is important:
    1. Because nearly half of all 4-year-olds in Los Angeles County do not have access to preschool. In many communities, the problem is much worse.
    2. Because children who attend high-quality preschool are more likely to graduate from high school and seek higher education.
    3. Because children who attend preschool typically showed an advantage in pre-reading, early writing, and math skills.
    4. Because children who attend high-quality preschool are less likely to be involved in crime.
    5. Because local communities benefit from increased investment in small business and infrastructure.

    6. Because studies show that for every $1 invested in preschool, a social capital return of $2.62 is earned. Another study states that the real return is $17 in social benefits.
    7. Because every child deserves a chance to thrive.

  2. Earl Richards says:

    Brown’s budget proposals are ridiculous, because a few members of the opposition will not vote for the budget and Californians will not vote for higher taxes. So what is Brown’s real budget?

  3. Earl Richards says:

    There is very little difference between Brown’s budget proposals and previous budgets, because Brown’s budget is master-minded by the oil industry. There is no provision for closing corporate and commercial tax loopholes, no oil extraction tax and no oil corporation, windfall-profits tax. Californians pay the highest price for gasoline in the nation. Brown’s budget is the same, because again, it picks on the most vulnerable. Jerry appears to be working for Big Oil and not for the Californians who voted for him.

  4. Early childhood generally encompasses the first eight years in the life of an individual.There are several degree options available for us if we wish to pursue a career in early childhood-education. It resulting effects on child motivation and learning power last for a long time. Typically, the salary range for people working in the field of Early-Childhood-Education is between $35,000 to $45,000.
    kitchen remodelling

  5. cosa aranda says:

    Helping children learn and succeed is a very rewarding career. As an Early-Childhood Educator, you can participate and facilitate this growth process for children – and get them focused on the path to success from an early age.
    Typically, the salary range for people working in the field of Early-Childhood-Education is between $35,000 to $45,000. You can also have the option of earning a supplemental income by coaching a sport or leading an extracurricular activity. During the off months when the school is in vacation, you can also earn extra income by tutoring or a part time job.
    trends kitchen
    your faucets
    your improve
    kitchen remodel

Speak Your Mind