Popular LA preschool language program is targeted once again

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Michael Collier
EdSource

A popular and well-regarded preschool program in Los Angeles, which was created more than three decades ago to help children and their parents in low-income, racially and ethnically isolated neighborhoods of the city, would be shut down over the next two years under a district proposal to cut costs.

The specialized program, known as the School Readiness Language Development Program, has been in the budget-cutting crosshairs for several years. Now, Los Angeles Unified School District Interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines’ budget plan proposes to eliminate the program, which currently serves about 10,000 4-year-olds – nearly one-third of the 35,000 pre-kindergarten slots offered by the state’s largest school district. At its peak, the preschool program enrolled about 16,000 students.

Maureen Diekmann, executive director of the district’s Early Childhood Education programs, said Cortines, who returned to the district this year as interim superintendent, “has been a supporter of early education for years.” But she added, “This is not about that. This is about money.”