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Preschool shortage draws Prop 82 endorsement
from San Francisco Mayor and District Attorney

High Schoolers Organized for Preschool Education Education (H.O.P.E.) yesterday joined Mayor Gavin Newsom, District Attorney Kamala Harris at the Tenderloin Childcare Center to voice support for the Preschool for All initiative on the June 6 ballot.
Photo(s) by Sean Posey

R. J. Halperin, at left, with fellow San Francisco High School students, all of whom attended preschool. Halperin is a founding member of H.O.P.E. and lead organizer of citywide High School student advocacy for Prop 82. "We believe we can be very helpful in emphasizing the positive message about preschool," Halperin explained. "All of our group's members attended preschool and understand the benefits preschool can provide in helping kids enter school ready to learn. We want all of California's children to have that opportunity." With Halperin, from left, are Trevor Hill, Erin Washington, Lily Thallhiemer, and Mark Friese.

District Attorney Kamala Harris was an early criminal justice system voice urging child development become integral part of law enforcement strategy for crime prevention.

March 23, 2005

Mayor Gavin Newsom and District Attorney Kamala Harris today officially announced their support for Proposition 82, the Preschool for All Initiative. Newsom and Harris toured the Tenderloin Child Care Center, which provides preschool to children from low-income and homeless families.

On the ballot in June, Proposition 82 will provide free, high-quality, voluntary preschool education for every four-year old in California.

Newsom called Proposition 82 critical to expanding preschool access in San Francisco.

"San Francisco has been a leader in providing preschool, but we need Proposition 82 to finish the job," Newsom said. "Too many parents struggle to find quality preschool for their children, either because they are on waiting lists or can't afford it. That's unacceptable. I can't think of a more important initiative than ensuring that all children enter school ready to learn and succeed. That's why I am proud to announce my strong support for Proposition 82."

Despite growing demand, only 20% of California kids have access to quality preschool with a well-qualified teacher. Public preschool programs serve less than half of eligible children and often have lengthy waiting lists.

In San Francisco, 87% of publicly-funded programs have waiting lists, according to a 2005 study by Fight Crime, Invest in Kids California, above the statewide average of 76%. In addition, many preschool programs are prohibitively expensive for families. The average cost of a part-day preschool program in San Francisco County is $4,574, making it the fourth most expensive county in the state. For full reports on preschool costs and waiting lists, click here

"Proposition 82 will level the playing field so that all children, no matter what their economic background, get a head start on learning," said District Attorney Harris.

"Research shows that quality preschool puts kids on the right track in school and helps them stay out of trouble. I am supporting Preschool for All because I would much rather see kids succeed in school than end up in the criminal justice system."

Today, 50% of California's fourth graders fail to meet basic reading standards, and California ranks 45th in the nation in reading. Studies show that when children attend quality preschool, they enter school better prepared to learn, more likely to read by the third grade, and more likely to graduate from high school.

Recent research on preschool shows advantages not only for children, but also for society as a whole. A 2005 study by the RAND Corporation found that the benefits of a universally available preschool program in California would greatly outweigh the costs.

Economists estimated that every dollar invested in quality preschool would generate $2.62 in savings to California's schools, criminal justice system, and through increased tax revenue to state and local governments. For the nine-county Bay Area, RAND estimated that there would be 1,000 fewer high school dropouts, 1,400 fewer children ever retained in a grade, and 6,100 fewer years of special education per year.

Proposition 82 will provide a high-quality, voluntary preschool education for every four-year old in California. The initiative provides teacher training and raises standards for preschool teachers. It will build on the existing network of preschools, allowing parents to choose the preschool program that is right for their family. For more information about Prop. 82, click here.

Founded in 1976, the Tenderloin Childcare Center (TLC) was San Francisco's first licensed childcare center to reserve slots for children from homeless families. Today, TLC serves 72 children maintains a safe, child-centered environment where children from under-served communities can thrive and develop to their full potential. For more information about TLC and Compass Community Services, click here.




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