schools.jpgState Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson spoke at City College of San Francisco this morning to oppose state budget cuts to child care and early learning programs.

Some 62,000 children statewide are at risk of losing access to early childhood programs like CCSF’s child care and development centers because of $500 million in proposed cuts to such programs in this year’s state budget.

According to the California Department of Education, such programs have already been cut by nearly $700 million over the past four years.

The cumulative impact of the cuts represents a 42 percent loss in state funding for childcare since 2008, according to the education department.

“This is the wrong direction to go,” Torlakson said. “This is realignment for realignment’s sake without any discernable benefits.”

In remarks made before the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review committee in March, Torlakson said the administration’s proposal would effectively begin dismantling the state’s child care system and offers no cost savings.

CCSF’s network of child care centers serve approximately 6,000 students, according to the college’s Child Development Department Chair Kathleen White.

CCSF board of trustees president John Rizzo said the cuts to child development programs, which can help preschoolers get a jump on their education, are just as bad as cuts to educational programs for older students and adults.

Torlakson echoed King’s comment, noting that the early education programs are one piece of an educational continuum that spans preschool education through higher education and beyond.

“Breaking the continuum is a lost opportunity,” Torlakson said.

Torlakson is encouraging California residents to write letters and emails to Gov. Jerry Brown in opposition to the cuts and taking a stand for the future.

“These are disruptive cuts that we should fight to avoid,” he said.

Referring to toddlers he observed this morning on a tour of the child care facility at CCSF’s Mission Campus, he said the youngsters have a voracious appetite for knowledge and are “just full of life.”

“We can see that in their eyes,” Torlakson said.

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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