$5M grant kickstarts CDE’s universal pre-K initiative

Photos of crayons in a elementary school classroom
Lisi Ludwig/Senior Staff
Universal transitional kindergarten is set to be phased into California’s schooling system throughout the next five years at all public schools by the California Department of Education.

Related Posts

A $5 million grant was awarded by the California Department of Education to the 21st Century California School Leadership Academy, or 21CSLA, State Center, which is headquartered at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education.

The funding from this grant will aid in the rolling out of a statewide universal transitional kindergarten and allow the 21CSLA to offer programs on extensive leadership coaching, as well as sustain professional communities for educational leaders.

“The grant to this center is important because it has demonstrated the vision and organizational capacity to implement and guide the professional development of school leaders through direct work with 21CSLA’s seven Regional Academies across the state,” said Jabari Mahiri, chair of the 21CSLA leadership board, in an email.

The grant was awarded to a specific team within the 21CSLA, which is composed of the leadership programs in the schools of education at Berkeley and UCLA, as well as the California Subject Matter Project stationed at the UC Office of the President, noted Mahiri.

According to assistant professor Tolani Britton, the 21CSLA State Center revolves around equity-centered professional development for all California school leaders from pre-K through college and career readiness.

“21CSLA is funded by the California Department of Education to implement a robust, equity-forward, evidence-based approach to expand the capacity of California’s educational leaders at all levels,” Mahiri said in the email. “To improve instruction and better meet the holistic needs of underserved students in order to create more equitable and high achieving schools.”

Universal transitional kindergarten is set to be phased into California’s schooling system throughout the next five years at all public schools by the California Department of Education, Mahiri added.

The establishment of pre-K is part of a $2.7 billion initiative within the education funding bill led by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty and signed into law in July 2021, according to Mahiri.

“This funding will help support the capacity of school leaders to ensure equitable access to preschool and better integration of teaching and learning in preschool and elementary,” Britton said in an email.

While in the past, the state has primarily focused on K-12 education, increasing the integration of K-12 and preschool students will allow for the opportunity to serve the educational and socioemotional needs of students within California’s school system, Britton added.

This initial $5 million grant will allow 21CSLA to get started on their work — but more funding will be required for the initiative to be fully carried out, according to Mahiri.

“If we want to move the needle on student outcomes, we need to devote research and attention to education in all years and integration of knowledge and skills of school leaders, teachers, and students across transitional years,”   Britton said in the email.

Contact Zoe Kessler at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @ZoeKessler14.