NBC Bay Area
In a Field Poll released on Friday, April 18, 2014, the majority of California voters approved of the state paying for universal preschool, even if it will cost $1.4 billion.
Legislation winding through the state is being pushed with the hope of relieving the pain in the pocketbook for low-income families who want their kids to get an early start for a good education.
Now, a new study suggests that a majority of Californians would support expanding pre-kindergarten to all 4 year olds. And that's a boon for Southern California.
"The majority of children who would benefit from this would be in Southern California, specifically in LA," said Louis Freedberg, a spokesman for EdSource, the company that worked on the poll.
Of the 1,000 California registered voters polled over the phone, 56 percent said they believe that the state government should be doing more to provide young children opportunities to attend preschool.
One of the bills being floated is called Fair Start. Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, the bill's author, believes it would help level the playing field between low-income children and their higher income peers.
By the time low-income children have reached their 5th birthday, they are more than two years behind in language development, he said.
"Californians intuitively understand that the more you invest in success up front, the less you spend remediating failure at the end," he said in a press release.
Statewide, 67 percent of children in kindergarten through third grade are identified as low income, English learners or foster youth who need substantial extra support, Steinberg said.
A California Department of Education fiscal analysis estimates that expansion of transitional kindergarten will cost an average of $300 million in additional funding each year for five years, totalling roughly $1.5 billion by the 2019-20 school year.