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It's a Wrap! Birth to Five Water Cooler + ECE and K-12 Agenda Setting Conversations with California's Gubernatorial Candidates

Gavin Skype Water Cooler

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Advancement Project California’s Birth to Five Water Cooler conference. It was also a special year as we added ECE and K-12 agenda setting conversations with California’s gubernatorial candidates.


“Never before have California’s gubernatorial candidates been asked to go on the record on our birth to the 12th-grade system. Gubernatorial candidates Delaine Eastin, John Chiang, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Gavin Newsom went on the record during the last 24 hours. All publicly declared that if we are going to keep California golden, we must invest in early childhood education.” —Karla Pleitéz Howell, Director of Educational Equity, Advancement Project California

+ Emmy-award winning actress and author Sonia Manzano from Sesame Street inspired the audience by sharing her pathway to being one of the most influential Latinas in television.

+ School board members and gubernatorial candidates highlighted the importance of high-quality programs that support California’s dual language learners and builds biliteracy.

+ First 5 California, in partnership with Sesame Street’s Sesame Workshop: Care, Cope and Connect, launched a campaign focused on immigrant students.

+ All gubernatorial candidates spoke about the importance of addressing the under compensation of early care educators and the need to identify new revenue streams to support quality ECE programs.

+ Proposition 13 was brought up frequently by the gubernatorial candidates. There is an emerging interest to tackle the third rail of California politics in the coming years, with most candidates bringing up the need to reform the corporate property tax loophole to fund education.

DAY 1 — Photos and Quotes

John Kim: Advancement Project California Executive Director John Kim opens the final Birth to Five Water Cooler Conference and presents a historical perspective on the widening gap in access to quality ECE programs in California. 

“California is at a turning point. We can re-engineer our public systems to work for the California of today.”

Delaine Eastin: Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction and gubernatorial candidate Delaine Eastin receives a warm welcome from a familiar crowd of educators and education policy leaders. 

“Budgets are a reflection of values and we must take care of our kids first. Just like a family, you always take care of the kids first.

“We need more than great teachers, we need great facilities for our kids so that they can envision a future for themselves.”

“I am ashamed that California is 41st on education spending but 1st in prisons. Prison is an expense and preschool is an investment.”

“LCFF is a step in the right direction, but the system is still underfunded. We are still in the bottom ten states in per-pupil spending. I will change that as Governor.”

John Chiang: Gubernatorial candidate John Chiang shares his story as an English language learner and son of immigrants to a convening of early care and education advocates.

“California can no longer afford to NOT have universal preschool”

“Educators across the state need to be better compensated, especially early care educators who are severely undercompensated. We ought to pay educators the appropriate salary so that they can have a decent standard of living.”

“We need to invest in professional development programs so that more educators can obtain the advanced degrees needed to run quality early care programs.”

“When adults get the budget wrong, our children lose. That is not ok.”

DAY 2 — Photos and Quotes

Antonio Villaraigosa: Former Mayor of Los Angeles and Speaker of the California State Assembly joins Louis Freedberg on stage to discuss ECE and K-12 systems.

“California’s next governor needs to be a champion for early care and education. We can support K-12 and higher education by starting with child care. I intend to be the Governor who implements universal preschool.”

“Early care and education is a right, not a privilege. Kids from low-income families need the resources to be competitive with those from affluent families.”

“In order to grow our economy, we need to open the door for California’s youth. It starts at the beginning.”

Gavin Newsom: Lieutenant Governor of California and Former Mayor of San Franciso joins the conference by Skype to discuss ECE and K-12 systems.  

“Broadening the tax base is absolutely critical to support quality ECE programs. We have to revisit Prop 13.”

“We know that access is not enough. Our families deserve quality early care and education programs. Quality comes with costs, credentials and great outcomes for our kids.”

“Pre-school is a developmental imperative.”

To learn more contact Katie Smith (