California spending billions to expand transitional kindergarten. How effective is the program?

Two years ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed off on an ambitious plan to make a pre-kindergarten program available to California’s 4-year-olds for free.

That effort, already underway, is an attempt to reduce learning disparities and improve outcomes for the state’s children.

Education officials and close observers, however, are still grappling with essential questions: Just how effective is the program, known as transitional kindergarten, or TK, and for which children is it most beneficial?

Researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank, explored an early version of the program in the state in a recent study. Transitional kindergarten has been available for a decade in California, on a more limited basis.

The researchers found the pre-expansion version of transitional kindergarten led to earlier identifications of students with special education needs and those who were growing up learning a language other than English. At the same time, they discovered the program did not appear to improve test results for students in third and fourth grades more than other pre-kindergarten options.

Nonetheless, transitional kindergarten has support among education experts who urged caution against reading too much into the PPIC report.

Major shifts in the program have occurred in the years after the period studied, they noted. It also only involved five large districts in the state and the tests were taken years after the students left transitional kindergarten. Beyond that, childhood development can’t just be measured by test scores alone.

The PPIC authors also said their findings weren’t a sign that the program wasn’t helping students.

Still, the results not only raise some questions about the effectiveness of transitional kindergarten in California but also highlight another concern: Despite pledging to spend several billion dollars to expand the program, the state currently has no plans to formally evaluate its benefits before it becomes available to all 4-year-olds by the 2025-26 school year.

H. Alix Gallagher, director of strategic partnerships for Policy Analysis for California Education, a non-partisan research center, points to other unknowns.

“What do we mean when we say TK? Gallagher asked. “Because it’s not all the same, at all.”

For example, Gallagher added, districts can offer either half or full day instruction and be called transitional kindergarten. The benefits and experiences of each for students might not be the same. And the data collected by the state does not distinguish between those two options.

“We need more information about what kids are getting in TK,” Gallagher said, “in order to understand what program features are effective.”

Sarah Neville-Morgan, a deputy superintendent of public instruction for the California Department of Education, said the research from the PPIC and others helps the department refine and improve. Next year, the agency plans to release standards for transitional kindergarten that will identify skills children can develop while in it.

As for evaluating the program, Neville-Morgan said that is hard to do while it is still being rolled out.

“You actually have to wait until things are stable, fully implemented,” she said, ”to be able to look at true effectiveness.”

Catching up

Research has shown that early childhood education programs benefit students in the classroom and beyond. One study found California students who attended an early version of transitional kindergarten entered kindergarten with stronger math and literacy skills than those who didn’t. Less is known about the program’s longer-term benefits.

Head Start, which is federally funded, and the California State Preschool Program are among other pre-kindergarten options. Like those, transitional kindergarten is not mandatory. It is, however, the only program that will be available and free for all 4-year-olds.

One benefit of funding the program is that it provides access to a preschool option “in every corner of the state,” said Jessica Holmes, a chief deputy executive director with the State Board of Education, in an emailed statement. Elementary or unified school districts must offer transitional kindergarten. “While not every community has a Head Start or State Preschool program, they all have public schools and options to meet their needs.”

Deborah Stipek, an professor emerita at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, said the program is still developing and may look different once it is fully implemented.

“In a way,” Stipek said, “we created TK and now we’re catching up with all the policies that are needed to make it work effectively.”

The current expansion concerns Bruce Fuller, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Education.

“We don’t have real-time evidence as to whether this spending is really paying off for kids,” Fuller said.

That includes knowing more about how transitional kindergarten compares with other subsidized preschool options.

“Given the scope,” Fuller said, “it’s shocking that the administration is not carefully trying to commission an evaluation to see if there are short-term and immediate-term benefits to 4-year-olds.”

Holmes said the state is reviewing the transitional kindergarten program, and other preschool options, on an ongoing basis.

State education and social services agencies have formed a group of experts to analyze the quality of and access to all of the state’s preschool options, she added, including transitional kindergarten. The group plans to provide recommendations to the Legislature and Governor’s Office by March, Holmes said.

Neville-Morgan, from the education department, said the agency is hoping a long-term study of the program will eventually occur.

“It would have to happen through the budget process,” she said, “and that isn’t something that we have right now.”

In the meantime, E’Leva Gibson, an assistant superintendent for early learning and care at the Sacramento City Unified School District, is looking for more information.

While calling transitional kindergarten a “wonderful thing” Gibson also wants to know how to make it better and how to best measure students’ progress once they leave the program.

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee Via Yahoo News

California’s First Lady Produces ‘Gender Justice’ Films, Sells to State Public Schools

Just a little conflict of interest?

California Governor Gavin Newsom and his wife, “First Partner” Jennifer Siebel Newsom, have quite a money-making scheme going on: “He runs the state and she’s a nonprofit founder, entrepreneur, and filmmaker,” Open the Books reports.

“While her husband attends to state business, Siebel Newsom engages in her passion: advancing ‘gender justice’ through her charitable nonprofit The Representation Project. According to tax documents the organization is ‘committed to building a thriving and inclusive society through films, education, and social activism.’”

Jennifer Siebel Newsom solicited state vendors and the governor’s campaign donors for large gifts to her charity, The Representation Project.

Siebel Newsom, through her non-profit The Representation Project, has released four films advocating gender justice. The films are leased for screenings to individuals, corporations, and schools, and come with their own lesson plans. Schools spend between $49-$599 to screen these movies to children.

With her Governor husband, who would dare deny her solicitations?

See just a little conflict of interest?

FLOWCHART: How Jennifer Siebel Newsom used taxpayer dollars to trade with herself, her nonprofit organization, and her for-profit business. The organization refused to disclose how much of their screening revenues came from California public schools. (Photo: Open the Books, with permission)

Open the Books dug in and reports:

Jennifer Siebel Newsom is credited as a writer and director on each of these films. Two of the movies feature Gavin Newsom himself, and many of the lesson plan activities are oriented toward engaging children in social and political activism.

Because of Gavin Newsom’s role in these films and because licenses are sold to schools which the governor is responsible for funding with tax dollars, auditors at OpenTheBooks.com felt the organization deserved further scrutiny.

Who’s Watching? 2.6 million students in 5,000 schools.

“Auditors at OpenTheBooks.com watched Newsom’s movies and read the lesson plans. What we found was, at times, shocking: sexually explicit images, political boosterism, and something called ‘The Genderbread Person.’”

The Globe watched the Misrepresentation Middle School movie as well. It’s a documentary, but it hammers strong feminist and gender justice messages for school kids ages 11-14:

  • Women as sex objects
  • Women/girls “in a disempowered position”
  • Few female protagonists in movies
  • women/girls portrayed as only seeking men, husbands, marriage, pregnancy
  • boys should be trained to not be “hyper masculine” or “misogynistic”
  • Middle school children are served images of upside-down strippers with little left to the imagination
  • the “genderbread person,” who aims to show children how biological sex, “gender expression,” “sexual attraction,” and “gender identity” exist on a spectrum, which can be mixed and matched.

The movie is not age appropriate for Middle Schoolers, and really should not have any place in school curriculum. It is pure propaganda.

Open the Books moved on to Siebel Newsom’s film The Mask You Live In, which features the website addresses of porn sites including Porn Hub, MassiveCams, BDSM.XXX, and Brazzers.com. The pornographic images displayed in the film are tagged with descriptions such as “domination,” “face fuck,” “kinky couples,” and “…dirty brunettes.”

“Siebel Newsom included images of naked or mostly naked women being slapped, handcuffed, and brutalized in pornographic videos. The pictures are graphic even when blurred. Screenshots of those scenes can be found HERE (VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED).” The movie claims it will show “how we, as a society, can raise a healthier generation of boys and young men,” and will help “shape the national conversation around healthy masculinity.”

Open the Books also exposes lesson plans from The Representation Project which promote radical gender and sexuality messages:

One such lesson for middle and high schoolers includes the “genderbread person,” who aims to show children how biological sex, “gender expression,” “sexual attraction,” and “gender identity” exist on a spectrum, which can be mixed and matched.

While kindergarteners are spared the genderbread person in their curriculum, they are offered similar lessons on “gender identity,” introducing genders other than “boy” and “girl.”

Gavin Newsom is featured in Miss Representation and The Great American Lie as himself, talking about how he appointed women as police chief and fire chief when he was San Francisco Mayor, but only because they were the “most qualified” people for the jobs.

“Newsom speaks three times in Miss Representation and is portrayed as a champion of women’s rights—see this example from the middle school curriculum video (18:37).”

It is shameless political propaganda, and it is shown to young school kids.

“Getting paid by schools to portray your politician husband as a standup guy to captive children in the classroom was such a winning idea, Siebel Newsom deployed it again in The Great American Lie,” Open the Books reports.

The Great American Lie examines the roots of systemic inequalities through a unique gender lens,” Siebel Newsom’s movie page states. “With America facing widening economic inequality and stagnant social mobility, this film takes audiences on an empathy journey, inspiring a path forward.”

Open the Books summarizes the actual threats of the movies:

Kids forced to watch The Representation Project films in schools aren’t just subjected to gender ideology, sexually explicit images, and Gavin Newsom’s one-liners. They’re being given a left-wing framework through which to see the world, and then prompted to conduct social and political activism.

In The Great American Lie curriculum, students are asked to do a “privilege walk,” divulging personal information in order to compare themselves to peers inside and outside the classroom. “Privileges” include being “a cisgendered man,” “white,” “born in the United States,” “straight,” and speaking English as a first language.

First Partner solicits state vendors and Governor’s campaign contributors

In January, the Globe covered the Open the Books report which found in California’s state spending “979 state vendors who gave $10,561,828 in political donations to Gavin Newsom during his 2010, 2018, recall election, and 2022 election cycles. Meanwhile, these companies reaped $6,201,978,173 in state payments.”

That’s a $10.6 million investment for a $6.3 billion return.

Open The Books also found “pay to play” vendor contributions going to the first partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who they say solicited state vendors for donations to her charity, The Representation Project, which since 2011, has generated $17,489,680 in revenue.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe