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California’s Poorest Preschoolers Are Stuck At Home

For decades, experts have understood 4 as an academic fault line, the year that cleaves wealthy and even middle-class children from their poor and working-class peers. Yet amid the pandemic, public preschools such as Darlene’s have struggled to reopen, despite being classed as essential. When they do open — probably weeks or months after most private preschools — as many as two-thirds of classroom spots for 4-year-olds could be gone.

Last year alone, the state and federal governments poured close to $4 billion into California’s public preschool programs, yet studies show tens of thousands of eligible children were still being left out. Among those, close to a third lived in L.A. County. More lived in Darlene’s ZIP Code — 90011 — than anywhere else in the state.

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