Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla Honored With Early Learning Champion Award

10.18.2012 | Preschool California

For Immediate Release – October 8, 2012

For more information: 

Jennifer Kern, (415) 277-6974, or (415) 244-7676,

Deborah Kong, (415)

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla Honored With Early Learning Champion Award

At TK Classroom Visit Assemblywoman Bonilla Honored for Leadership 

CA – October 18 – Preschool California today honored Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) with the 2012 Early Learning Champion Award for championing transitional kindergarten (TK) and early childhood education at a community celebration featuring educators, parents, business and community leaders at Highlands Elementary School in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.

“Preschool California is honored to present Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla with the 2012 Early Learning Champion Award in recognition of her steadfast leadership in championing transitional kindergarten and critical early childhood education programs this year,” said Catherine Atkin, President of Preschool California. “Assemblywoman Bonilla has been resolute in her commitment to ensure California’s youngest learners are given the foundations they need to succeed.”

With the new school year in full swing, more than 2,000 TK classes are up and running across the state with the historic launch of the first new grade introduced since 1891.

“I am honored to receive this recognition,” said Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla. “Thanks to transitional kindergarten we’ll see greater academic achievement, higher graduation rates, and fewer students being held back or placed in special education.”

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla visited at Highlands Elementary School’s new transitional kindergarten classroom, interacting with students at different learning stations while the teacher explained how the activities emphasize creative play-based learning and shorter lessons appropriate for a younger child’s attention.

After the award presentation, Highlands Elementary School Principal Vicki Eversole, TK teacher Joy Slater and TK parents Teresa Jorgensen and Laura Kelly discussed the success of the launch of TK locally.

“We thank Assemblywoman Bonilla for championing this real step forward in education,” said Highlands Elementary School Principal Vicki Eversole. “Knowing our youngest learners were starting behind and staying behind, we were thrilled to pioneer TK at Highlands Elementary. In the first two months we’ve already seen tremendous gains in our TK students.”

“Just two months into the school year, my son has matured and gained so many skills,” said Teresa Jorgensen, whose November birthday son is part of the first cohort. “Colton is problem solving, sharing, exploring, and having fun while learning math and reading concepts without knowing it.”

Transitional kindergarten is a new grade serving younger students with birthdays between September and December, established by the California state law that changed the kindergarten entry date so that children enter kindergarten at age five. All school districts are required to offer transitional kindergarten this year, but children’s attendance is voluntary, as is kindergarten attendance.

Transitional kindergarten is offered at no immediate additional cost to the state, because funding that would have been used to support young five year olds in kindergarten will be redirected to support those same children now in TK. Transitional kindergarten does not add more children to a school because the total number of children served remains the same and existing teachers and classroom facilities will be used.


This past year Assemblywoman Bonilla led her Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance in rejecting Governor Brown's proposal to eliminate transitional kindergarten. The Governor's proposal would have meant a permanent Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding cut to schools by denying 125,000 children the right to enter kindergarten; creating uncertainty for families who were ready to enroll their children in kindergarten.

As Chair of the Select Committee on High Quality Early Childhood Education, Assemblywoman Bonilla held hearings on the importance and need of transitional kindergarten. After hearing from school administrators and teachers, Assemblywoman Bonilla partnered with Preschool California to author AB 1853 to make voluntary professional development available for teachers seeking the additional training to teach transitional kindergarten effectively. Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by Governor Brown even though the bill did not establish a new teaching credential, as suggested by the Governor in his veto message.

Transitional kindergarten is a bright spot in our education system and Assemblywoman Bonilla will continue to work to see transitional kindergarten be successful.


About Preschool California

Preschool California is a nonprofit advocacy organization working to increase access to high-quality early learning for all of California’s children, starting with those who need it most.

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