Press Release

AFT President Stresses Importance of High-Quality Preschool During Visit to L.A. Head Start Center

For Release: 

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Cynthia Leonor Garza


LOS ANGELES—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten emphasized the need for universal access to high-quality preschool, saying during her visit today to a Los Angeles Head Start Center that early childhood education is especially important for disadvantaged kids to help close the achievement gap and provide the necessary building blocks for future success in school and in life.

Studies have clearly shown that a high-quality preschool program can have a positive impact on a child’s future success, Weingarten said.

“Right now, too many our most disadvantaged children are falling through the cracks and showing up to kindergarten already behind their peers,” Weingarten said. “If we want to get serious about closing the achievement gap between the haves and have-nots, we must start by addressing issues related to early childhood education and school readiness.”

 Weingarten and other education and community leaders toured the Kedren Head Start Center in Nickerson Gardens. Award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Maya Christina Gonzalez read to the children from her bilingual book, I Know the River Loves Me/ Yo sé que el río me ama. The children each received a copy of this and another bilingual book courtesy of the AFT, as well as a Colorín Colorado tool kit for parents to help their children succeed in school.

The Kedren Head Start Center in Nickerson Gardens serves low-income African-American and Hispanic students, most of whom reside in the adjoining public housing development.

“At Kedren, we are committed to meeting the individual needs of the child and the family. By collaborating with local community-based programs, we are better able to integrate early childhood education with primary care, nutrition, mental health, family literacy, and social services, thus, strengthening the family unit and enhancing self-sufficiency,” said Dr. John H. Griffith, President/CEO of Kedren Community Health Center, Inc.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.