All-Day K for All?

Should Kansans pay more to the education industry to send children to all-day kindergarten?

All-day K is growing, sometimes paid for by getting parents to pay for part of the day. That’s not always an easy sell.

Pay programs have critics, but proponents say charging is one of the best ways for districts to provide full-day programs in states like Kansas and Indiana, which only pay for half-day programs. And they say many parents accustomed to paying for child care and preschool don’t flinch at the cost.

Nationwide, 65 percent of kindergartners were enrolled in full-day programs in 2003, up from 28 percent in 1977, according to Washington, D.C.-based Child Trends DataBank, a national research organization. The rates are even higher for poor students, in part because their schools receive extra federal money that can be spent on things like kindergarten.

All-day K is on the rise in Kansas:

An estimated 64 percent of kindergartners in the state are attending full-time programs this year, up from 36 percent in the 2002-03 school year. The rise can be at least partly linked to moves by the Legislature to make it easier for schools to use a pool of state money, which is devoted to students deemed at risk of failing, on all-day kindergarten.

All-day K has its attractive features. On the other hand, the problem with American education is not the early grades as much as it is the later grades, of middle school and high school. If we are to be putting some attention on schooling, perhaps that’s where we should look.

Source: Parents Pay thousands for Kindergarten, Wichita Eagle, March 7, 2007 [Interesting. The headline could have read “Taxpayers pay thousands for Kindergarten.”]

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