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November 4, 2011

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William Leiter (916) 651-4011 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


SACRAMENTO – The California Reading Association will honor State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) tonight as its Policymaker of the Year. Simitian is receiving the award for his Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 (SB 1381), which requires children to be five years old to start kindergarten and provides an additional year of “Transitional Kindergarten” for children with fall birthdays.

The California Reading Association will recognize Simitian at its 44th annual Professional Development Institute tonight in Vacaville. The organization annually recognizes positive influences to education in California by a policymaker who has made a significant contribution to literacy.

“Policymakers dramatically influence the lives of both educators and our children in California, and this year we are pleased to recognize Senator Simitian for his Kindergarten Readiness Act,” said Lynda Griblin, President-elect of the Association. “In giving this award, the California Reading Association acknowledges the extent to which we, as educators, depend upon the support of policymakers to further the goals of a literate society.”

Simitian called the recognition for the Kindergarten Readiness Act “gratifying.” He continued, “Educators at the California Reading Association know how important it is to give our youngest students a better chance to succeed. The Transitional Kindergarten program does just that, and reading is the gateway skill for all the challenges ahead.”

As a result of Simitian’s legislation, California, which previously permitted children to start kindergarten as young as four years and nine months, joined the majority of states who require children to be five by September 1. The change had long been sought by teachers, who consistently report that children younger than five are the ones most likely to fall behind. “Young fives” will delay their start date, and have the benefit of a year of Transitional Kindergarten before they begin their regular year of kindergarten.

“Transitional Kindergarten is a victory for kids on two fronts,” said Simitian. “We start kids when they’re ready to succeed in school, and for younger children we provide a ‘get ready’ year of instruction as well.”

California was previously one of just four states to require new kindergarten students to be five by December 2. The Kindergarten Readiness Act moved the cutoff date to September 1, phasing in the change a month at a time over three years, beginning in the fall of 2012.

“Today’s kindergarten classroom is a much different place than most of us experienced,” said Simitian. “We’re placing real academic demands on our kids, and the youngest are struggling to keep up. The evidence shows that giving these younger kindergarteners an extra year can make a big difference in their long-term success.”

The California Reading Association is a non-profit professional organization of educators specializing in reading and language arts education from kindergarten through university. The organization consists of more than 55 active local reading councils and over 3,000 members.

For more information on Simitian’s Transitional Kindergarten legislation, visit For more information on the California Reading Association, visit