California awards $2 million to 21CSLA for leadership in early learning

October 17, 2022

The California Department of Education is investing in new training—the first of its kind in the state—for school leaders and administrators who will implement California’s groundbreaking Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) policy. 

California’s support includes a $2 million grant to the UC Berkeley-based 21st Century California School Leadership Academy State Center to work in collaboration with the CDE, State Board of Education, California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, and Berkeley Extension to build equity-centered instructional leadership for early learning. California will offer UTK to all of the state’s 4-year-olds by 2026. 

“In order to have an equity-forward approach to the implementation of Universal Transitional Kindergarten, we must innovate to deliver the content knowledge and resources that inform instructional decisions,” said 21CSLA Director Rebecca Cheung. “This support will embed equity-focused training into our credential programs for administrators and ultimately help ensure the success of UTK in the state.” 

The early learning training—in the form of online credit-based courses—will be for candidates who are enrolled in Preliminary Administrative Services Credential (PASC) programs and will emphasize connections to and impacts on the preschool through third grade (P-3) continuum. 

Dr. Chris Thomas—a seasoned higher education professional with teaching, leadership, and early childhood education experience—will lead the 21CSLA effort. (Read a Q&A with Thomas about his work and vision.)

“We are very excited that this partnership can have a positive impact on young children at such an important stage in their development, as well as demonstrate the experience Berkeley has in delivering outstanding courses to education professionals beyond our campus,” said Berkeley Extension Assistant Dean Henry Tsang. 

The project will feature a two-course sequence on leadership for implementing early learning that culminates in a certificate. Courses will be piloted and modified in 2022/2023 and delivered multiple times per year, beginning in 2023/2024. A continuous improvement process will be baked into the model. 

The project is deeply connected with the state-funded 21CSLA Universal Transitional Kindergarten Leadership Initiative, which is now providing no-cost training to principals, teachers, and leaders at all levels who are implementing TK in California. Courses will also be developed in collaboration with the Berkeley School of Education’s burgeoning online education program. 

“California is once again leading in training for school leaders who will transform schools to benefit the most historically marginalized and resilient communities as well as all early learners,” said BSE Professor Jabari Mahiri, Leadership Board Chair of 21CSLA State Center.