California Educator

April / May 2019

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Has TK decreased "redshirting"? Are fewer families "redshirting" students due to the availability of transitional kindergarten? It's unknown how many parents are choosing to enroll their child in TK rather than delay kin- dergarten by an extra year. But it seems likely that most parents are choosing TK if their chil- dren are eligible, because there is no cost. Students who were redshirted before TK was available may have had an advantage over students who were not. A 2012 Stanford report, "The Extent, Patterns, and Implications of Kin- dergarten 'Redshirting,'" published before TK was fully implemented, found that it occurred with approximately 4 percent of kindergarten-eligible students, most of them white and affluent. According to the report, the most common reason for redshirting was that parents feel their child lacks the maturity necessary to be suc- cessful in kindergarten. However, some parents delay kindergarten so their child would be bigger, stronger and more athletic compared to his or her peers. In fact, the term "redshirting" refers to athletes who delayed college competition by a year so they could develop athletic skills and extend their eligibility timeline. The state does not keep statistics on redshirt- ing or the percentage of parents who opt for TK. district have pressured TK teachers to structure their classes more like kindergarten to prepare students for becoming test-takers. Merriweather explained to them that this is not in the best interest of children and defeats the purpose of TK. "Children this young are not developmentally ready for kin- dergarten. We are just beginning to understand the value of TK and how it provides students with the skills they need to be successful." TK teachers in San Francisco have requested more para- professionals in the classroom to help meet the needs of their young students. Paras assist TK classes for the first three months of school. is isn't enough time, says Merriweather, so UESF has asked for more. " TK isn't perfect," says Merriweather, " but it's definitely improving educational outcomes for students and helping to close the achievement gap in California." W H I L E E A R L Y C H I L D H O O D E D U C A T I O N ( E C E ) is getting a much-needed investment of resources, advocacy group Early Edge California, formerly known as Preschool California, held a series of meetings with a variety of ECE educators to gain insight into the needs of early learners. CTA Board member Eva Ruiz and Castro Valley Teachers Association member Paula Merrigan participated in the meetings. Early Edge California executive director Patricia Lozano shared the top seven items that came up during these discussions: • Higher pay is key to recruitment and retention. Low pay is the No. 1 barrier to hiring and keeping early learning teachers. • Large class sizes are hurting quality. One of the biggest challenges that TK teachers report is the large class sizes and the high student ratios. • Teachers want training on how to support dual-language learners, as well as classroom resources to help them communicate and engage with their culturally and linguistically diverse kids and their families. • The benefits of bilingualism are not well under- stood, and there is a lack of awareness about the importance of supporting a child's home language development. As a result, many parents try not to speak their native language with their kids. • Educators are frustrated by lack of funding, say- ing that more resources are needed to improve access and quality. • Early learning educators need financial support to further their education and training, but most teachers lack the resources or paid time off to access professional development opportunities. • The current unit-based Child Development Permit does not meet teachers' needs. Instead, they agreed that California should move to a compe- tency-based system of preparation that focuses on knowledge and skills acquisition. For more information on Early Edge Califor- nia and their ECE advocacy and resources, visit —Julian Peeples What Educators Want You to Know About Early Ed Early Edge California meeting: CTA member Paula Merrigan, second from left, and Board member Eva Ruiz, third from right. 37 A P R I L / M AY 2 019

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