California Fair Share

A grassroots campaign to make sure everyone gets a fair shot, pays their fair share and plays by the same rules

Why equal access to preschool matters to me

By Brianna Taylor

I did not go to preschool as a child. My mother was not able to find an early learning or child care program for me and my three siblings, so she resolved to keep us at home and teach us cognitive and social skills herself. She prepared us for school with a combination of educational work books, trips to the library, and Sesame Street.  By the time we got to Kindergarten, we all knew how to spell  and write out our full names, count and recognize numbers and read children’s stories.

Patrick, Myself and Carol (left to right) during the GapBusters Rally

Patrick, Myself and Carol (left to right) during the GapBusters Rally

Seventeen years later, we turned out well, with the exception of two becoming moms at a young age. We have all graduated from high school on time, with the youngest sister set to graduate in June and continue to on to CSU Stanislaus in the fall. Because of our academic success without preschool, I didn’t think access to early education was important. If I can make it to college, why can’t everyone else? Little did I know,  my early homeschooling was a luxury. Not every parent can afford to stay home to teach their child.

Unfortunately, half of California’s three and four year olds are not in preschool. I wish I could say that those children are getting education at home as I did, but that is simply not true. Many of these families want their children in preschool, but there is not enough room in programs like Head Start and state preschool programs. Private preschool is extremely expensive and out of reach for many parents.

Bria and Joaquin

Bria and Joaquin

I witnessed these difficulties with my 3 year old nephew, Joaquin. Joaquin is the only child of my younger sister, Bria. At six months old, Joaquin was able to get a spot in Early Head Start in the infant class. On top of things he was learning at home, he was learning at school. When he learned to speak, he spoke a lot and surprisingly spoke well. Even now, people are shocked at how well he speaks. Bria, continuing our tradition of learning your name, has taught Joaquin to orally spell his first name.

Joaquin loved “Baby School”, as he called it, but he eventually aged out of his Early Head Start class, His mom, Bria, hit a few brick walls getting him into Head Start and ended up on a waitlist. She searched for other preschools in our area that had room for him. Luckily Joaquin wasn’t on the waiting list for long and was able to get a spot at a Head Start near our house.

Not everyone is as fortunate as Bria and Joaquin. Some parents can’t get their kids into preschool at all. Some parents are stuck on waiting lists until a student ages out or leaves. Though I don’t have any children, I want to see my nephews, their peers, and my future children get the strongest start possible. The future of not only California, but the United States as a whole depends on those children.

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One comment on “Why equal access to preschool matters to me

  1. Pingback: Warning signs of a bad preschool… | R.B.Bailey Jr

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