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Education Insight: Early Childhood Education: Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) | Growing Inland Achievement
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About This Episode

Season 2. Episode 2.

Educators, researchers, scientists, and politicians have proven that if you want your child to make it to college, starting them at pre-school has extraordinary payoffs for lifelong learning. Unfortunately, pre-school operates differently in every community. There are many programs providing free pre-school to very poor communities and a number of almost ivy-league pre-schools for wealthy families. Many middle-class families have been unable to afford what was left for their children.

But Kevin McCarty, the State Representative from Sacramento crafted AB 22 — a bill aimed at making pre-school or Transitional Kindergarten possible and free for any family in California that chooses to enroll their child. It passed in August and with the assistance of AB130, which provides wrap-around services like additional child-care and extra funding — California is setting up programs across the state. Today we’re sorting thru the differences in pre-school and transitional kindergarten, plus what parents can expect.

Featured Guests

Kevin McCarty

California State Assembly Member, 7th district. 


Kevin McCarty was elected to the California State Assembly in 2014 to represent the 7th Assembly District, which includes Sacramento, West Sacramento and parts of unincorporated Sacramento County.

McCarty serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, which oversees the largest component of California’s multi-billion dollar budget. As Chair, McCarty made historic investments in public education including expanding access to preschool for low and middle income families, providing greater career technical education programs, and increasing student enrollment at our public colleges and universities.  

Other legislative priorities for Assemblymember McCarty include addressing housing affordability, fighting climate change, championing criminal justice reform, curbing gun violence, tackling the opioid crisis and advocating for the middle class.

McCarty began his public service career as a Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Commissioner and served on the Sacramento City Council from 2004 to 2014. As a Councilmember, he created innovative youth programs and wrote common-sense gun laws, tackled sub-standard rental housing, and crafted clean air policies. He created Sacramento’s Little Saigon district, the City’s Whistleblower Hotline program, and the Independent Auditor department.

A lifelong Sacramentan, McCarty went to local public schools, attended American River College, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from CSU Long Beach and a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from CSU Sacramento.

McCarty and his wife live in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Sacramento with their twin daughters.

Like, follow and connect with Assemblymember McCarty on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @AsmKevinMcCarty

Karen Scott

Executive Director, First 5 San Bernardino.


Karen Scott is the Executive Director of the Children and Families Commission – First 5 San Bernardino, a funding organization of services for children prenatal through age 5, by investing revenue received from Prop 10, a tobacco tax initiative in California.

Ms. Scott’s education and background is in Public Administration and Administration of Justice and she has worked in the realm of Human Services for San Bernardino County since 1977.  Karen has served as Executive Director of First 5 San Bernardino for 14 years leading the organization’s efforts to promote, support and enhance the health and early development of children, prenatal through age five through coordinated and comprehensive systems of care that strengthen children, families and communities, ensuring children are safe, healthy and ready to enter and succeed in school.

Karen is married to James Scott and has 4 adult children and 4 grandchildren.

Interview Highlights

2:52 – Karen explains the difference between Pre-K and TK

4:38 – Karen shares what research shows as far as the value of Universal TK

6:43 – Karen describes the biggest challenges were going to encounter when adopting high-quality universal TK in the Inland Empire.

9:04 – Karen details what skills children are learning or developing when they attend TK programs

9:50 – Karen talks about the ongoing teacher shortage and how they plan to combat it

15:57 – Kevin gives insight into what inspired him to make transitional kindergarten free for children in California

20:21 – Kevin estimates how many children he thinks will enroll in this program

24:36 – Kevin shares why he thinks Californians are in support of this initiative

26:26 – Kevin describes how TK will implement quality improvements to address social, emotional, and early academic development

33:46 – Kevin talks about how California State preschool and Head-Start programs will be affected when Universal TK begins.

42:09 – Special Feature: Josh Maya

View our podcast page for more stories like this:

Education Insight tells the story of education in the Inland Empire through the diverse voices of those in and around the regional education community. The show is produced by Growing Inland Achievement, a collective impact organization in the Inland Empire with a mission to increase economic prosperity in the region by increasing educational attainment. Hosted by 30-year broadcast veteran Lacey Kendall, monthly shows explore topics ranging from education challenges and shortcomings to innovations and groundbreaking ideas that are driving student success.

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