EdTrust-West Responds to 2023-24 Transitional Kindergarten Enrollment Data


For Immediate Release
May 22, 2024
Contact: Mariel Matze, [email protected], 650-380-1973

EdTrust-West Responds to 2023-24 Transitional Kindergarten Enrollment Data

Oakland, CA — In response to the California Department of Education’s release of annual enrollment data from the state’s TK-12 schools in the 2023-24 school year, Natalie Wheatfall-Lum, J.D., Director of TK-12 Policy at EdTrust-West, issued the following statement about the implementation of its universal transitional kindergarten policy:

Today, we are celebrating data showing that since last school year, there are over 30,000 more four-year-olds across the state—including children of color and multilingual learners—wrapping up a year of growth, learning through play, and exploration in transitional kindergarten (TK) programs.

All racial groups showed substantial enrollment gains this school year, indicating that the promise of universal TK access is on its way.

Yet the impact of expanded access is only as good as the quality of TK provided. As we have for years, EdTrust-West remains committed to monitoring and advocating for TK programs that provide their young learners with developmentally appropriate, culturally and linguistically affirming, and well-staffed learning experiences. This need is especially urgent for Latinx children, who make up over half of children participating in TK, and Black children, for whom there is still significant opportunity to increase participation.

Our state’s leaders can ensure that TK is a high-quality experience for children and families by ensuring play-based, developmentally appropriate instruction and curricula; more support for low staffing ratios; and incentives for training and recruiting a culturally and linguistically diverse TK workforce—and districts should leverage these incentives with children of color, multilingual children, and their families in mind. In addition, districts must do more, with state support, to make Black families feel welcome in TK classrooms.

We believe implementing universal transitional kindergarten is currently one of the most important educational equity opportunities for California. If matched with quality, enrollment gains like these indicate that with equitable implementation, TK is truly becoming an option available to all.

About EdTrust-West

EdTrust-West is an evidence-driven advocacy organization committed to advancing policies and practices to dismantle the racial and economic barriers embedded in California’s education system. For over two decades, EdTrust-West has worked to improve racial equity in education by engaging diverse communities and increasing political and public will to build an education system where students of color and multilingual learners will thrive. For more information, see edtrustwest.org or follow us on X.

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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.