News flash: SFUSD will not implement Transitional Kindergarten

Update (March 9, 2012): SFUSD has now announced it will implement TK at two Early Education sites:  McLaren and Leola Havard  – located in Visitacion Valley and the Bayview. Families who applied for TK before the January enrollment deadline, as well as those who have applied since then, will be notified that they are eligible to apply to either of those sites. 

Today the district released the following statement:

Effective immediately, SFUSD will not be offering Transitional Kindergarten (TK) for the 2012-2013 school year. Only students turning 5 years old on or before Nov. 1 will be eligible for Kindergarten entry for the 2012-2013 school year.

In the Governor’s proposed budget for the 2012-2013 school year, school districts would not receive any funding for Transitional Kindergarten, and the state would not mandate districts to offer it.  Given that SFUSD cannot afford to offer Transitional Kindergarten if it is not funded by the state, SFUSD will not plan to offer Transitional Kindergarten for the upcoming school year.

While the California Department of Education continues to provide updates and the situation may change over the course of the next several months, SFUSD is moving forward on the assumption that there will be insufficient funding to offer Transitional Kindergarten in the 2012-2013 budget.  SFUSD is providing this notification so that families who were interested in TK can take action to make alternative arrangements for their children for the 2012-2013 school year.

The Governor’s budget is just a proposal. What if the legislature
still decides to mandate and/or fund Transitional Kindergarten for the 2012-2013 school year?

SFUSD will not plan to offer Transitional Kindergarten (TK) unless it is state mandated. The legislature is required by law to adopt its budget by July 1 each year though in some recent years the state budget has been passed later than this. Transitional K will affect Kindergarten spaces throughout the district and cannot be accommodated with such late notice. Additionally, families need to plan for their child’s educational setting months in advance. If it is state mandated, SFUSD will offer Transitional Kindergarten spots at two Early Education schools in 2012-2013:  Havard and McLaren Early Education Schools.

I am a parent who had planned on sending my child to an SFUSD Transitional K program. What do I do now?
If your child is in preschool, ensure your provider can maintain a space for your child. If your child is not enrolled in a SFUSD Early Education Department school (EED school) and is no longer eligible to continue in his or her current program, you may find out more information about eligibility for SFUSD EED placements by contacting Melissa Luc at (415) 750-8500.

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18 responses to “News flash: SFUSD will not implement Transitional Kindergarten

  1. Bob Smolenski

    sf_mommy noted that a friend had found no info about petitioning the SFUSD to get early entry.

    “The EPC representatives with whom she spoke all told her, no, there are no exemptions; there isn’t even a form to request exemptions.”

    We all need to find the actual state code that allows for early entry assessment. Other districts have this set up. SFUSD needs to abide by state law.

  2. It was a bit late to drop the announcement, after all parents did their research homework and turned in the application. What choice do they have now?

    I also think it shouldn’t be the District to decide which kid is ready and which is not. Why not ask all pre-K teachers to have a say about that? In our classroom, some kids are more than ready and will be bullying the others. It’s very damaging to a child learning process to be bored in school and insufficiently engaged.

  3. Lucille Cuttler

    It’s time to stop blaming these wrong headed decisions on lack of money and instead say the truth: it’s lack of critical thinking. Where will the money come from to enlarge a burgeoning prison population resulting from an education system that’s gone awry? Witness the truancy and dropout rate, and ask why we are failing to provide the education a democratic nation promises. Do we want to continue to be a pipeline to prisons? A little cost/benefit analysis is appropriate. Lucille Cuttler

  4. Rachel, I agree that the governor cannot have thought this through and that it is unfair of him to simply push the problem on to the school districts. But, surely by cancelling TK the district is also being unfair by pushing the problem on to families. And the lower income families will be hit the hardest.

    As the law currently stands the district is still mandated to provide Transitional Kindergarten. Given the current uncertainties as to whether the governors proposal will even pass it seems a little premature for SFUSD to just cancel TK on the basis they won’t get funding. I would have preferred to see SFUSD add their voice to the chorus of people calling the governor out on this one.

  5. This is a big blow for parents like me who were planning to send my November-birthday child to kindergarten this year. The primary questions are: will SFUSD block these children from starting kindergarten? And what happens to the kindergarten applications we filed?

  6. Ms. Norton; thank you for the additional information. You have yet to answer the question about exemptions for children with November birthdays, who are clearly ready for K. Correct me if I am wrong, but the Simitian bill includes a provision for such children to be admitted after review. San Francisco refuses to do so. Please explain how you and the rest of the board are planning to remedy this.

  7. Marija Maldonado

    How can the district get away with this? They announced that transitional kindergarten would be there for our kids and now we are left to solve this problem on our own.

    I agree that we need to organize as a group and demand accountability as soon as possible!

    Please contact me if you are interested in trying to do something about this.

    marijamaldonado@gmail.com

  8. This is a very good summary of the complexity, risks and uncertainty of the state’s current TK policy: http://toped.svefoundation.org/2012/01/27/san-francisco-scraps-transitional-kindergarten/
    I understand people who were counting on a program are feeling abandoned, but there are more questions than answers at this point. There’s a basic question of whether the district would/will get ADA for students if we chose to go ahead with a TK program this year — clearly the Governor didn’t think the proposal through and was hoping to just push the TK problem onto school districts. If there’s no ADA, should we spend the money to offer a program, and just cut something else from some other kid’s classroom?

  9. “Forest Gray” wrote: “SF is apparently the first and only District in California to eliminate TK, ”

    That’s not exactly true … Napa Valley, Orinda, Alameda and several other school districts canceled it before SFUSD did.

    But go on making stuff up :)

  10. Seconding the post by E. Rat.

    I also understood from the Kindergarten Readiness Act that there was an exemption/appeals process for those children who no longer met the age cut-off, but were clearly ready to start Kindergarten.

    The TK program as initially planned by SFUSD rendered this exemption process uneccessary but, now that the TK program has been summarily axed, SFUSD really do need to provide this process. And they need to do it soon, so that all those children who miss the age cut-off but are ready for K in 2012-13 can get in to the system and be considered for K openings as part of Round 1.

  11. This, the stupid middle school feeder system of no choice in unequal schooling, and the discussion of dropping honors classes (great improvement plan…NOT), just goes to show voters that the Board needs a major overhaul. Where is your plan for IMPROVING middle schools? How much money does the district spend on “summits”? Not one parent I’ve spoken to in the last six months is happy with the decisions The Board has made recently.

  12. E. Rat wrote: “I was under the impression that the Kindergarten Readiness Act as passed made an exemption possible for four year olds who were clearly Kindergarten ready but younger than the new cut-off dates.”

    That would be a good idea. However, a friend of mine, who is affected by this [a single working mom just above the income limit for assistance who went out of her way to tour every possible school this winter, taking time off work to be able to do so and trusting that the information provided to her by EPC's transitional K workshop, brochures, website, etc. was correct] asked numerous EPC reps, before even going through this ordeal, if there are any exemptions to the new cutoff for kids who are clearly ready for K (as, according to many articles about the bill, promised by the politicians who created it). The EPC representatives with whom she spoke all told her, no, there are no exemptions; there isn’t even a form to request exemptions. Change that, Representative Norton, and I’m sure many of the parents who are so outraged right now will calm down.

    Right now it seems as if, come Monday, EPC will simply toss those applications…

    In addition, work towards putting the whole process online, thus automatizing the data entry part of it, fire all the EPC folks responsible for data entry (and thus assure no further data entry gaffes such as miscoding home language data) and streamline the rest of the department, then use the funds for our ailing schools. Maybe it would even make sense to try and shoot for an all-charter school system in the future. Up to this point, I was a huge advocate for public schools and against charters, but this latest disappointment makes me suspect that the public school system is in fact irreparably broken. With this act of throwing SF under the bus for the sake of political shenanigans SFUSD and their EPC have lost any remainders of trust that I had into them. They are obviously not interested in working for children and their families.

  13. I was under the impression that the Kindergarten Readiness Act as passed made an exemption possible for four year olds who were clearly Kindergarten ready but younger than the new cut-off dates. If this is the case, SFUSD really should be making that clear – and providing some clear guidelines on what constitutes readiness for Kindergarten.

    Schools are already held accountable for numerous unfunded mandates. It’s not really clear to me what SFUSD proposes to gain by – in essence – playing chicken with the state over this one. Either there is no TK in the end, or there is a hastily-planned sudden rollout of a program. Neither is ideal. It is shameful for the Governor to propose such a budget. But ultimately it will be children who suffer the consequences.

  14. Rachel, how will inter-district transfer work for someone who lives in SF but work in the peninsula per se where trans K is offered since children who would otherwise qualify for TK won’t be able to apply in SFUSD? This is all very confusing since I thought districts were required to offer TK by law.

  15. The state mandate, in itself, is a bad idea. The children that are “not ready” for kindergarten, are unready not because of their age, but because early childhood education is unavailable to them. They are not any more ready waiting another year without preschool. If the district and the state truly have compassion for those underserved, they would commit to educating them, at any age. This creates a huge economic problem for families who already have to scramble to find childcare. I am sickened by the decision. Please provide, as school board vice president, the rationale for cancelling transitional kindergarten.

  16. If the city cannot implement the program, then th city should NOT change the cutoff date either. It’s that easy. Don’t change half the law. The Simitian proposal explicitly promised transitional K, so that children, who are ready for school, do not get stuck in play-based preschools just to cause disturbances in their classes next year because they are bored out of their minds. At least offer exemptions, readiness testing, things like that instead of simply shrugging shoulders and going… well, this isn’t our problems. I (and I’m sure many other parents) feel that, if SF is not able to offer those spots, the city is morally obligated to keep the old cut off date. What are those families to do???? Is there any legal recourse for the families who are hurt by this? Or will the city simply get sued by the State for this, enter into a long legal arm wrestling match that does not benefit anybody, and ultimately lose even more funds down the road??????????????????? Even with the transitional K option this law was ill-conceived, but without it it is a catastrophe for some families. Who on earth thought this was a good idea????????????????????????????????????????????

  17. This is outrageous that the school district would make this decision so late in the game, with the application deadline tomorrow (mine was turned in last week.) I spent countless hours researching schools and taking mornings off of work to tour them, and now all that time is wasted. As far as I can tell, this program does not cost the district any more than the current school year as it simply renames the children with November birthdays as TK rather than K. Doesn’t this actually hurt some schools since they will have fewer students and therefore less funding from the state? I don’t see how SFUSD can claim that they will only offer TK if it is mandated by the state when it is *already* mandated by the same legislation that changed the birthday cut-of in the first place. San Francisco is the only district in the state ignoring this mandate – so should I become another one of the many families who leave SF?

    I’m not going to claim that my child is a genius, but according to her pre-K teachers, she is clearly not a child who needs to wait until she is almost 6 to start kindergarten.

  18. This is appalling. Two days before applications are due the SFUSD axes the TK program due to budget issues? Really? After spending countless hours and taking several mornings off work touring schools you NOW tell us it was all for nothing? You all should be ashamed of yourselves. My four year old was born in early December, is in Pre-K now and will be more than ready for Kindergarten. You are disenfranchising her, holding her back in Pre-K for another, redundant, year that she doesn’t need and that will cost us thousands of dollars that was not budgeted until this morning.

    SF is apparently the first and only District in California to eliminate TK, so clearly it isn’t about the money. You were waiting for Moonbeam to threaten cuts so you have a political pass to do this, and that is disgusting. Why don’t you cut things like transitional language programing for NON-TAXPAYERS first? The priorities in SF are sometimes so poorly structured it is an embarrassment. I understand there is talk of eliminating honors classes, which are CRITICAL for an AP track. This is a NECESSITY if a child excels and is a candidate for a top-tier school. I get it… it is all about the lowest common denominator for you. Who cares about smart kids. I know this; That is not how to build a globally competitive society.

    You may face litigation if you keep this up. You cannot expect to disenfranchise tax-paying citizens with kids while earmarking and protecting services for non-taxpaying families – that are not in the country legally. I am not against all the programs per se, it is only a question of how much money there is to work with. Clearly, money is drying up, so put it ALL on the table, and stop making decisions months too late that have massive adverse impact on working families trying to find a good school for their children. Your bandaid solution IF there is still a mandate (two programs offered in the Bayview and Vis Valley) was NEVER MENTIONED until now, and it will cost MORE MONEY than the original plan that was disseminated to all of us for months.

    The SFUSD and BOE are in serious need of a refresh. I think there should be a recall election. If there is not enough momentum for that, it may be time for us to move like many other smart families fed up with this garbage. We will take the thousands of dollars we were planning on pumping into the PTA and go elsewhere.

    Shame on you.