Silicon Valley Coalition Plays Key Role in Funding Early Education

There is a new beginning in California for economic development and ending mass incarceration. Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to allot an additional $265 million to fund 7,000 additional preschool slots and 6,800 child care slots, plus a rate increase for all providers. It’s a major step forward for the state we call home. Growing a robust middle class and reducing crime begins with a strong start for each and every child.

Governor Brown just announced a budget agreement with Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, consistent with his May revenue estimates. We live in one of the wealthiest places in the world, yet approximately 60,000 children in Santa Clara County live below the poverty line.

Families with financial means are able to provide high quality learning education experiences for their children from birth to kindergarten. Families that struggle financially to make ends meet are not able to provide comparable learning experiences.

This gap in early learning creates the achievement gap in later years.

A coalition of Silicon Valley leaders traveled to the state Capitol last week to be the voice for those children who, by chance, are born with little opportunity to enroll in high quality early learning programs. Our Strong Start coalition included representatives from the SJSV Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters, SV2 Building and Scaling Social Innovations, Oak Grove School District, Educare and First Five.

We met all day in the governor’s conference room and also met with nearly a dozen state leaders including Cathy McBride, the governor’s deputy legislative secretary and  chief education advisor, Rick Simpson, deputy chief of staff to Assm. Atkins (D-San Diego), Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), and Erin Gable, of First 5 California. Capitol Advisors arranged the meetings with these individuals, tabbing people they think could have the biggest impact in persuading Gov. Brown to increase early learning slots.

The trip included my colleagues Board President Darcie Green, Trustee Grace Mah, Superintendent Jon Gundry and Dr. Mary Ann Dewan. On Tuesday, I received a text from Barrett Snider, a partner at Capitol Advisors, to know that our “lobbying efforts around early learning clearly contributed to the success” of the early learning being included in the final budget deal. “This is pretty significant win for early learning considering the Governor prevailed on assuming lower revenues,” Snider added.

A verbal report said the package includes the following (subject to change when we see final language):

  • 6,800 voucher slots
  • 5,800 Full-Day slots within Proposition 98
  • 1,200 Full-Day slots (half Prop 98 and half non-Prop 98)
  • 5-5 percent increase in child care reimbursement

An important strategic partner in our quest to fund early childhood education programs has been the local Chamber of Commerce. Matthew Mahood, CEO and president of the Chamber, wrote to the governor last week on behalf of his 1,500 member businesses and 65-member Board of Directors. Mahood asked him to support the Assembly’s $605 million investment in early childhood education. Although the budget deal provides nearly half of the Assembly version, the governor’s original budget was at zero.

“As a Chamber, we feel that an increasingly substantive body of research exists that shows investing in early childhood education is highly effective in combating numerous societal problems,” Mahood wrote. “As examples, this investment has been shown to increase high school graduation rates, college attendance and graduation, decrease crime, and grow a stronger economy with a more robust middle class…”

We should celebrate the governor’s willingness to use $265 million to fund early education for low-income children. But we also must make sure to keep the main goal in mind—getting 100 percent of these children the head start they need.

Joseph Di Salvo is a member of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees. He is a San Jose native. His columns reflect his personal opinion.


  1. > We live in one of the wealthiest places in the world, yet approximately 60,000 children in Santa Clara County live below the poverty line.

    Profoundly ignorant.

    The myth of California’s “wealth” is one of the favorite fairy tales that “progressives” tell themselves so they can SPEND, SPEND, SPEND and then SPEND some more.

    California is in debt to the tune of a THIRD OF A TRILLION DOLLARS!

    The presumption of DiSalvo and other so-called progressives is that their job is to have fun and it’s someone else’s job to pay the bill.

    So, whose money is DiSalvo spending? Who is it that gets screwed hard and deep?

    It’s future taxpayers. It’s THE CHILDREN.

    The debt burden on California’s children makes them the poorest people on the planet, and likely the poorest people ever in world history!

    Social Security is GOING TO GO BANKRUPT.

    401K pension plans are GOING TO BE RAIDED BY THE GOVERMENT.

    Taxes are GOING TO BE RAISED to pay government employee pensions until their is no economic activity left to be taxed.

    Businesses are GOING LEAVE THE STATE or close up shop. (

    California’s energy resources will be locked up by the trust fund children and left in the ground..

    California’s water resources will diverted to save snail darters and denied to “invasive species” like farmers and growers.

    California will revert to continental desert except for a sliver of coastal oasis reserved for the oligarchy and their concubines and their children.

    No Joe. California is NOT one of the wealthiest places in the world. Not while it is run by people who think that stealing the future prosperity of children is “wealth”.

  2. It must take great coordination for Mr. DiSalvo to type while piously fingering his rosary beads. This compilation of discredited beliefs reads like it was composed by a religious fanatic in a delusional trance, one in desperate need of an exorcist.

    Where to start? How about the preposterous promise that our public schools system — which has proven itself woefully inadequate in educating school age children, can, for a mere $19k per preschooler or toddler, reduce crime and produce a robust middle class? Exactly where in the DiSalvo family bible is the evidence to support this belief? Certainly not in the returns on the several Head Start Projects, whose alumni, beneficiaries of billions of good faith tax dollars, have ruined many of America’s big cities and filled our prisons.

    What evidence can Mr. DiSalvo produce that supports his attribution of the achievement gap to family income and early learning? My goodness, if the man’s right I’ve been mistaken these many years about the circumstances of my own upbringing and that of many of my acquaintances. And what of the miraculous economic rebounds that occurred in post-war Germany and Japan, powered by the talent, hard work, and civility of a generation that had grown-up with near starvation “means” and circumstances “enriched” by their bombed-out environment?

    Congratulations, Mr. DiSalvo, on extending the reach of your cancerous dogma that much further into the withering, weakened body of this state.

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