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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    
November 5, 2012

For More Information, Contact:
Brock Winstead (650) 688-6384, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Simitian’s Legislation Created TK, the First New Grade Level in California Since 1891

REDWOOD CITY – On Wednesday, surrounded by four-year-olds in a transitional kindergarten (TK) classroom created by his legislation, State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) will be recognized for his work championing the cause of early childhood education.

At 10 a.m. at Taft Elementary, the nonprofit advocacy group Preschool California will present Simitian with its Early Learning Lifetime Achievement Award.

Simitian is the author of the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010, which changed the kindergarten entry age and created transitional kindergarten (the first year of a two-year kindergarten for children with fall birthdays who will be too young under the new cutoff date to enter regular kindergarten).  Launched statewide for the first time this year, 2,000 TK classrooms are now up and running in 800 school districts across the state. It’s the first new grade level introduced in the state since 1891, when kindergarten was adopted into state law.

“I am honored by the recognition,” said Simitian. “Transitional kindergarten is one of the few bright spots in California’s current educational scene.  At no additional cost to the state, we’re now starting kids at an age when they’re ready to learn, and providing many of them with a year of TK – a ‘get ready’ year – prior to kindergarten. Taken together, these two steps provide the strong educational foundation needed to fulfill the California promise that every kid has the opportunity to achieve his or her potential in school, career and life.”

“Preschool California is honored to present Senator Joe Simitian with the Early Learning Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding policy work and strong voice to promote child learning and educational opportunities,” said Catherine Atkin, president of Preschool California.

“The Redwood City School District appreciates Senator Simitian’s leadership in championing transitional kindergarten,” said Redwood City School District Superintendent Jan Christensen.  “We are committed to high academic achievement for all of our students, and want our students to get off to the strongest possible start. Transitional kindergarten provides us with one more tool that helps our students enter kindergarten ready to learn and achieve.”

As a result of the Kindergarten Readiness Act, the age for kindergarten eligibility is moving to five years old by September 1, phasing in a month at a time over three years, beginning this school year.  Previously, California allowed new kindergarten students to be five years old by December 2, one of just four states in the nation to do so.

Simitian was prompted to take up the cause of changing the kindergarten enrollment age when two teachers in his Senate district presented him with a petition, signed by 289 teachers, requesting the September 1 cutoff date.

Due to term limits, Simitian’s last day as a State Senator is November 30. He has served the last 12 years in the State Legislature. 


WHAT: State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) will visit a new TK classroom and receive Preschool California’s Early Learning Champion Award in front of classroom of TK students

WHEN: Wednesday, November 7 at 10 a.m.

WHERE: Taft Elementary, 903 Tenth Avenue, Redwood City, CA

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