East San Jose gets early learning center
Alum Rock Union Elementary School District Superintendent Hilaria Bauer speaks at the opening of the Cesar Chavez Early Learning Center in East San Jose on July 21, 2023. Photo by Julia Forrest.

    East San Jose is primed to help its youngest residents with a new center to shape their academic future.

    The Cesar Chavez Early Learning Center opened its doors to the community today. The early learning center will focus on providing educational opportunities and services to children up to age 5.

    Alum Rock Union Elementary School District Superintendent Hilaria Bauer said that the opening of this center will allow children in the area to have an array of opportunities they may not otherwise have access to.

    “Our children begin to learn from the moment they’re alive,” Bauer told San José Spotlight. “Public schools need to adjust to that. We really need to give an opportunity to the youngest of our students.”

    The new center will offer services from birth to age 5 and will provide preschool care for nine hours per day. The center will provide transitional kindergarten and kindergarten for 4- to 5-year olds. It will also offer after-school care and summer school for those in transitional kindergarten and kindergarten.

    The center previously received $7 million from the California Department of Education State Preschool program that enabled Alum Rock Union School District to expand early care and education programs.

    The school board approved the move to transform the Cesar Chavez Elementary School into an early learning center in April 2022. The move faced opposition from parents at first.

    The school was previously home to about 120 students enrolled for transitional kindergarten, kindergarten and special education classes.

    Scott Moore, chief executive officer of Kidango, whose early education nonprofit is partnering with the district, said this allows families a chance to have child care close to home.

    “We hope that this is a model where we’re not only allowing families to stay in their communities, but also for their children to be thriving and successful in school,” Moore told San José Spotlight.

    San Jose Councilmember Peter Ortiz said the center will help children across East San Jose, which he said has been historically impacted by redlining and has faced a lack of investment from local, state and federal governments.

    “By giving them the resources (and) giving them that foundation, (the center) will provide them with the positive trajectory in their education career,” Ortiz told San José Spotlight.

    Congressmember Zoe Lofgren, who represents parts of San Jose, said the opening of the center was a product of people working together to ensure early childhood education was prioritized in the area.

    “(When you) come to something like this, you realize we all do believe in the future and these children,” Lofgren told San José Spotlight.

    Contact Julia Forrest at [email protected] or follow @juliaforrest35 on Twitter.

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