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 Assemblymember Weber Honored as an Early Learning Champion

Early Edge California honored State Assemblymember Shirley Weber with the 2014 Early Learning Champion Award for promoting high-quality early education in the California Legislature.

The award was given at an event on Dec. 9 that included a preschool tour at Vista La Mesa Academy followed by an onsite community celebration with students, administrators, educators, and parents.

“I am honored to receive this recognition from Early Edge California,” Weber said. “We know that education doesn’t start at kindergarten; it starts at birth. By ensuring our youngest learners receive a high-quality early education, we can boost school readiness and graduation rates while also reducing crime and unemployment rates. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature on making continued investment in early education and support programs for children a priority.”

California’s 2014-15 state budget includes nearly $273 million for early learning and child development that expands preschool for 11,500 more children and starts to invest in quality and professional development. The budget also makes a long-term commitment to provide preschool to every low-income 4-year-old in the coming years and sets the stage for more progress for children birth to age 8 in 2015.

“Early Edge California is pleased to present Assemblymember Weber with the 2014 Early Learning Champion Award,” said Deborah Kong, president of Early Edge California. “She has been a strong advocate and champion for young children and high-quality early education services, and her voice in the Budget Conference Committee and Legislative Women’s Caucus helped secure a state budget that makes a significant down payment on our young learners.”

A recent poll shows that 83 percent of voters believe a high-quality early education is critical to a child’s future success. What’s more, when told that 32,000 low-income 4-year-olds still do not have access to state preschool because of a lack of funding, another 81 percent of voters say it’s important the state do more to address this inequity.

The San Diego County Office of Education partners with state and federally funded preschool programs across the county to increase achievement.

“In San Diego, we believe in the power of a high-quality early education, the first building block in preparing children for success in school and in life,” said Lucia Garay, executive director of early childhood education at the San Diego County Office of Education. “We are very grateful that Assemblymember Weber sees the core value of early education and took action to increase opportunities available to children in San Diego County and throughout California.”

Garay was one of many speakers who were in attendance at the award presentation which included Ernest Anastos, Lemon Grove School District superintendent; Donna Willson, director of early childhood education at the Lemon Grove School District; Blanca Brown, Lemon Grove School District board member; Elena Zuniga, a parent in Lemon Grove; and Araceli Sandoval-Gonzalez, Early Edge California director of school and community engagement.