Business backs bill mandating kindergarten

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LOS ANGELES (April 21, 2023) – Southern California business leaders united by a nonprofit advocacy alliance took a formal position this week to support a state bill mandating kindergarten for public school students, better equipping children for academic success and socio-emotional resilience.

The Board of Directors of the Los Angeles County Business Federation, widely known as “BizFed,” voted overwhelmingly to support Senate Bill 767 after examining statewide education data revealing enrollment dropped most significantly at the kindergarten level during the pandemic.

SB 767 requires students to complete one year of kindergarten before starting first grade, closing a gap in California’s public education system. Compulsory education begins at age 6 under current state law. The bill is authored by Sen. Susan Rubio, a former teacher, and sponsored by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

BizFed leaders’ participation in the LAUSD Business Advisory Committee helped push SB 767 through the business federation’s advocacy process. The bill was first vetted and passed by BizFed’s Anti-Poverty, Economic Mobility, and Education Committee, then BizFed’s Advocacy Committee. Its intended outcomes align with core goals of BizFed’s “Anti-Poverty Initiative.” Business leaders announced the decade-long project in 2018 and vowed to lift 1 million Angelenos out of poverty by 2028.

The majority of children in California who are not enrolled in kindergarten are from low-income Latino families. Kindergarten enrollment is highly correlated with success in adulthood, according to a report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study tracked 11,571 students and linked early childhood education to college attendance, earnings, retirement savings and homeownership.

“California has already committed to expanding transitional kindergarten to all 4-year-olds. Making sure 5-year-olds don’t skip kindergarten is a logical next step with proven benefits for today’s students and tomorrow’s diverse, innovative workforce,” said Tracy Hernandez, Founding CEO of BizFed.