04/08/2014 10:58 am ET Updated Jun 08, 2014

Kindergarten Readiness is a Hot Topic in the California Senate

One of the most important California Senate Bills will be voted on soon as hearings continue this week. It is the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2014 - SB 837 (Steinberg) and would provide every four year old in the State of California with high-quality, developmentally appropriate transitional kindergarten (TK), so that all of the children in the state are served and are ready to begin school with a much stronger chance of success.

As a transitional Kindergarten teacher at a charter school, I am well aware of the difference the extra year makes in the school careers of children. I have been teaching this special program for nine years and have seen the results myself. In TK, children are introduced to core academic knowledge in pre-literacy and early math, build critical learning skills such as paying attention, managing emotions, completing tasks and learn the important social skills of making friends, taking turns, working in a classroom environment and in a school setting. According to Early Edge California, economists have found that every dollar invested in high-quality early learning programs can save more than $7 in the form of fewer students being held back, placed in special education or getting involved in crime. Additionally, more graduate from high school and college and earning higher salaries in their careers. If California invests in SB 837, the savings in the prison system alone are estimated to be $1.1 billion a year due to the reduction in prison population by 13,000 prisoners. This is the wisest investment we can make.

An article in Esquire, describes the over medication of boys commonly diagnosed with ADHD who perhaps, with an extra year to grow and mature, could navigate school more successfully.

Currently, only half of California's low-income preschool-aged children benefit from existing State Preschool or federal Head Start programs, and only one-quarter of all children have access to TK. Many families cannot afford quality Pre-School programs and children enter school at a disadvantage.

By supporting SB 837 and showing that support by contacting State Senators to encourage their support, we can give all children the strong start they need for success by improving and expanding TK to serve all four year olds.