Transitional kindergarten, California confusion


A transitional kindergarten class at Oakland’s Greenleaf Elementary. — Laura A. Oda/ Bay Area News Group

The parents of 4-year-olds with fall birthdays — not yet in the public school system — have already come face to face with the topsy-turvy ways of Sacramento.

Take the parents of kids born in November 2007. Since 2010, they’ve been told their children will be too young for kindergarten in 2012 under the new cutoff date, but that they will be entitled to a spot in a new grade-level, transitional kindergarten.

Now, about seven months before the first day of school, they learn that the governor is proposing to cut the program to save $223 million.

The final decision is up to the state Legislature, but — as we all know — that’s likely months away. So, depending on where the families live, their school district might enroll them in transitional kinder anyway, hoping for the best, or inform them the class is being canceled. My colleague at the Mercury News, Sharon Noguchi, wrote about it this week.

Oakland and San Jose are still hoping to offer transitional kinder – at least, for now – but San Francisco canceled its plans, even though the law currently requires districts to do so.

Yvonne Delbanco, OUSD’s transitional kindergarten coordinator, said the district has collected more than 100 applications so far. “I’m being candid with families about the uncertainty at the state level,” she said.

Are you or someone you know stuck in limbo as a result of this development?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • AH

    It seems the whole idea of transitional kinder was not well-thought out. Whose idea was it to fund another year of public school when we can’t even afford the 13 years we’ve already got?

    Here’s my idea: treat kindergarten students like kindergartners, rather than first-graders. That’s when they should be learning to line up, name colors and letters, and write their name. Then nobody would need transitional kindergarten.

    I’ve been an OUSD parent for five years now and while it’s true that kindergarten is more like first grade, it seems that the 4th grade curriculum is much like the 4th grade curriculum of the 70’s. So why the rush to front-load in kindy?

    BTW, my youngest is a Sept 2008 baby. She will start kindy in 2013 as the youngest student, regardless of whether transitional kindergarten is offered in OUSD. If she struggles (which I don’t anticipate), she could repeat kindy. But, really, why do kindergarten twice if you don’t have to?