Funk: Early learning center in East San Jose is a jewel
The Educare California at Silicon Valley yard is pictured in this file photo. Photo courtesy of CCSESA.

As we await Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed state budget in his second term, early education advocates are hopeful he’ll continue his pledge of closing the opportunity gap by providing universal preschool.

During his first year as governor, Newsom’s first budget included a proposal of nearly $1.8 billion for an array of cradle-to-kindergarten initiatives.

Recently, presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren was in San Jose and visited a local child care center to discuss universal, federally-funded child care and higher pay for people who work with our young children.

San Jose offers a state-of-the-art preschool/child care center for children ages 0-5 at Educare California at Silicon Valley, which is located at Santee Elementary School in the Franklin-McKinley School District. Educare California at Silicon Valley is part of a 25-school, early learning network across the United States. Recently, a second California Educare center opened in Long Beach.

Educare California at Silicon Valley serves 168 children from the ages of 0-5 and their families in a state-of-the-art building and in a model for early learning school. Educare houses high-quality early learning classrooms, a family resource center, a satellite Children’s Museum, a career academy for high school students and a development institute that provides professional development for preschool teachers across this valley, which potentially will impact thousands of students.

Research is very clear that low-income children frequently start school far behind their peers and, for many, play catch up their entire educational career. Too many never close that gap. High-quality early childhood experiences (being spoken to, sang to and read to) have proven to level the playing field for low-income children and to help them graduate from high school, ready for college or a career.

In my first year as superintendent at East Side Union High School District, I had the opportunity to join an amazing group of like-minded leaders who dreamt of bringing the Educare network to California. We had an audacious goal of raising $14 million to build our Educare facility. Through years of collaboration, creative thinking, and blood, sweat and tears, the 34,000 square-foot school opened in 2015.

The opening and continued operation of Educare California at Silicon Valley has been a collaboration of public and private partnerships between the Buffet Early Childhood Fund, First Five Santa Clara County, The David Lucille Packard Foundation, Santa Clara County Office of Education, Franklin-McKinley School District, East Side Union School District, Catholic Charities, Educare Network, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Opportunity Fund and Kidango, to name a few.

Educare California at Silicon Valley serves as a model early learning school and the region’s leading professional development and research institute. The school is a laboratory for teacher training and high-quality early learning. Teachers work with children to develop literacy and early math skills, as well as social-emotional skills, which includes the ability to focus on a task, persistence, impulse control and cooperation with peers.

The school contains a Teacher Professional Development Institute, learning technology for the teacher training programs, 16 state-of-the-art classrooms, multiple indoor and outdoor learning spaces, and a resource center for families and the community.

Educare California at Silicon Valley is a hidden jewel; an early learning center in the heart of East Side serving low-income families and creating high-quality learning opportunities for some of our most vulnerable children and families. We are always seeking financial support, partnerships and volunteer opportunities.

Please consider joining our collective effort to bring high-quality, early learning opportunities to families across San Jose.

San José Spotlight columnist Chris Funk is the superintendent of the East Side Union High School District. His columns appear every third Monday of the month. Contact Chris at [email protected] or follow @chrisfunksupt on Twitter.

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