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Bus Tour Pushing Preschool Spending Starts In San Diego

Parents held up signs about the importance of early childhood education at a rally kicking off a statewide bus tour. They are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to support increased funding for state preschool programs and expanded early kindergarten.

Aired 2/19/14 on KPBS News.

Early education advocates kick off their statewide bus tour in San Diego.

Investing in preschool today could save California millions tomorrow. That’s the message a network of early education advocates called Raising California Together is taking on a bus tour to Sacramento. They kicked off their trip at San Diego’s Chollas Mead Elementary School on Tuesday morning.

State schools chief Tom Torlakson joined the tour to pressure Gov. Jerry Brown to reconsider his proposed budget for next year. Early childhood education advocates were disappointed when Brown advised prudence and saving new revenues instead of boosting state preschool funding or expanding the early Kindergarten program. It is now open to children who turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2 and to all of the state's 4-year-olds.

Torlakson said $1 billion was cut from state funding for preschool during the recession, which left 100,000 eligible children without access to high-quality preschool each year.

“We know that students who, for whatever reason, don’t get a good start," he said. "And don’t get preschool, don’t get a quality education — they come into kindergarten one to two years behind their peers, and they are then more likely to be behind in third grade and then they drop out of school.”

Advocates point to research that shows each dollar invested in high-quality preschool could save taxpayers $4 to $7 later — by setting kids up for success in school and at work.

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