This week our Center for Early Learning led a coalition of 19 Silicon Valley organizations from business, faith, education, nonprofit and government sectors to lobby Governor Jerry Brown on two recommendations as part of his May Budget Revision. Our request to the governor is not made lightly. Today, Silicon Valley – known for its innovation, strong economy and renowned educational institutions – is also home to thousands of low-income young children who cannot access high-quality early education programs. Our children enter school already behind their more affluent peers, with little chance of catching up. Additional funding and support from the education system are required to remediate the academic challenges many of them face.
The lack of adequate investment in early learning is not a sound decision if we want Silicon Valley to retain its competitiveness. Research has confirmed time and again that investing in early childhood education programs is the best way to ensure academic success, reduce public budget deficits and strengthen the economy.
The rates of return to our society on investing in early childhood programs are estimated at 7 to 10 percent a year. The weight of evidence clearly suggests that California needs to invest more in early childhood programs, not less. As a result of these facts and our local challenges, we requested that as part of the May Budget Revision, the state:
- Increase investment in California’s early education system by $800 million this year. The current state investment in early education is still nearly $800 million below investment levels in 2008. This lack of investment has translated to 8,000 low-income 3- and 4-year-olds in Silicon Valley having no access to services; woefully underpaid teachers in existing state preschools; and more than 4,400 childcare centers, providers and businesses statewide that have shut their doors since 2008.
- Provide sufficient time for policy leaders and early learning experts to participate in conversations about streamlining and consolidating the state’s complicated early education system. Several complex topics that must be addressed include identifying quality standards, appropriate reimbursement rates, program eligibility, a stable source of funding for the system, and timing of any new program implementation.
Our hope is that our advocacy will result in increased state funding for early education and a streamlined system that makes sense for families. Ultimately, these changes will improve the trajectory of California’s children and families to ensure their success and maintain our global competiveness.