Category Archives: All-day kindergarten

Are we over-medicating for ADHD?

New drugs can bring society many benefits, helping us avoid hospitalization, fighting off cancers, and helping bring chronic conditions under control. But are we over-using Ritalin and other drugs for ADHD?

Todd Elder of Michigan State University says that the behavior of up to 1 million children may be explained not by their having  ADHD, but by their age relative to their classroom peers. Currently, 4.5 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Elder makes his findings known in a journal article. The cut-off dates for kindergarten rates, he says, make a big difference. From the press release:

In Michigan – where the kindergarten cutoff date is Dec. 1 – students born Dec. 1 had much higher rates of ADHD than children born Dec. 2. (The students born Dec. 1 were the youngest in their grade; the students born Dec. 2 enrolled a year later and were the oldest in their grade.)

Since the long-term effects of Ritalin use are unknown, parents whose children are “on the bubble” for kindergarten enrollment may decide to hold off for another year.

Pre-K Recommendations

The Texas Public Policy Foundation offers some recommendations on pre-K programs that might be of interest to Kansans. It comes from a new report published this month. The title, Do Small Kids Need Big Government? (PDF) may strike some observers as unnecessarily antagonistic. But the report offers up a history of pre-K initiatives

Does Mandatory Early Schooling Help?

As we’ve written before, the Kansas Senate has moved to enact a lower mandatory attendance age for pre-K. This of course concerns the homeschool community–as it should many others. The Home School Legal Defense Association offers up some interesting research into the effects of lowering the mandatory age.

Parents who think that their children would benefit from kindergarten can of course send them to it. But not all do, and their wishes should be respected.

Funding Should Focus on the Needy

Here’s an oldie but goodie, written by Marc Rhodes, a member of the Kansas House from Newton. He wrote it for the Kansas City Kansan in April of last year. It’s somewhat dated, but still offers some food for thought.

————

Over the course of the session, legislators have pulled me aside to share their own buyer’s remorse on bills, “It was a bad vote, but I could lose my seat otherwise.” One thing you can count on is that my votes are not cast based on how things might shake out for me in the next election, but on research and discussion rather than—pardon the expression—saving my seat.

One example was my vote on all-day kindergarten. The Storm amendment set aside $15-million in FY 2008 to begin a five-year phase-in of all-day kindergarten for public schools statewide.

Studies indicate that for many at-risk children, all-day kindergarten would be a better environment than time at home. I believe it; and it is sad social commentary, but not justification for funding all-day kindergarten across the board.

Better to target education dollars to the needy, either for all-day kindergarten for at-risk children, or to expand an existing program such as Parents as Teachers that works with families of children prenatal to age five to provide the information, support and encouragement parents need to help their children develop optimally during the crucial early years of life.

I’ve spoken with teachers and heard it said that first grade benchmarks for “No Child Left Behind” are hard to hit with only half-day kindergarten. I can understand their frustration, but do the benchmarks translate into lasting, educational benefits for children or gold stars for grown ups?

There are parents who admit that all-day kindergarten would free up money they currently spend on day care and be more convenient for their schedules. Of course, this was not how the amendment was promoted, but at least it’s an honest appraisal, albeit not an educational benefit.

Politicians hesitate to ask questions about spending if the word education is attached, whether or not there are educational outcomes tied to the funding. Other sectors use outcomes to evaluate and improve efforts. Businesses use them to find out what works and what doesn’t. Non-profits use them to validate support for their mission. But we are not supposed to ask about increased returns-on-investment for increased spending.

Why not? What educational outcomes should we expect from a significant investment in all-day kindergarten—$15 million to get started and on-going, increased funding in perpetuity?

The Rand Study of data from 7,897 students, Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten concluded that: “Our analyses reinforce the findings of earlier studies that suggest that full-day kindergarten programs may not enhance achievement in the long term.” Advances by full-day kindergarteners “…did not persist into third grade.” Walston, West, and Rathburn (2005). “…the effect was reduced by half at the end of first grade and eliminated by the end of third grade…no significant relationship between full-day kindergarten attendance and grade retention through third grade.” Cannon, Jacknowitz, and Painter (2006).

Another study found “…that parental interest (or lack of it) is more important in explaining acquisition of nonacademic readiness skills than are schooling variables…indicating that early childhood home environment is a major contributor to non-academic readiness skills.” But you knew that, didn’t you?

As a nation, we do well through age 10 when American students score above the international average. It’s at around age 15 that we begin to lose momentum and fall behind other industrialized nations in achievement tests. At the same time, we have a tremendous opportunity to better connect high schools with our country’s burgeoning need for highly paid, high-skilled, technology-savvy manufacturing workers—but that’s for another article. Why not attach dollars to real-world solutions and expect real-world outcomes?

Today, I received a bar chart of the Abecedarian Project sourced by the Center for Public Education advocating for expanded pre-kindergarten. Their study warns that children who didn’t attend pre-kindergarten were almost twice as likely to end up in special education and three times less likely to attend college. Really?

A Google-search added supplemental information. It was a study of 111 at-risk children given individualized attention and games incorporated into their day. And the study did not begin at pre-kindergarten per se, but at infancy.

Of course children benefit from individualized, interactive attention during their formative years. We used to call it parenting. It tears at my heart that some children are not receiving this basic, foundational support. That’s why supporting programs such as Parents as Teachers makes so much sense.

One rule of success is to begin with the end in mind. If your goal is to show people you care about education, more money is an easy way to convey concern. But if your goal is to actually improve education, then you have to start with solutions that work. You have to spend your money—or in this case, someone else’s money—strategically. Which is why I couldn’t support the Storm amendment.

Making Kindergarten Mandatory? No.

Last year we noted that Sen. Jean Schodorf, suggested making kindergarten mandatory. We didn’t think that such an obvious attack on parental choice and discretion would go anywhere. Obviously we were wrong, as the headline in the February 29 edition of the Wichita Eagle makes clear: Senate OKs mandatory Kindergarten Attendance.

A bill requiring Kansas public-school students to attend kindergarten was approved 36-3 Thursday by the Kansas Senate, while an amendment to phase in money for all-day kindergarten failed in the House.Current state law does not mandate kindergarten attendance.

Sen. Schodorf says that this rule doesn’t apply to private schools (isn’t that obvious?), and adds that parents can petition the schools for an exemption. But the senator has it backwards: the decision should be opt-in, not opt out.

In addition (nearly by necessity), the bill would also lower the mandatory school-entering age from 7 to 6.

So far money is one factor:

Money is the same reason several lawmakers cited for voting against a House amendment that would have phased in payments for all-day kindergarten over five years starting in the 2009-10 school year.Initially, the program would cost $15 million. That would build to $75 million, which would become a permanent part of the education budget, said Rep. Ed Trimmer, R-Winfield. Trimmer proposed the amendment to House Bill 2734 that would change how consolidated school districts are funded.

But there ought to be a more fundamental point: Given that the problems with education appear in middle school and high school, the state should not be bringing ever-younger children into the existing school system.

Eagle Calls for Mandatory Kindergarten

The Wichita Eagle calls for mandatory all-day kindergarten. (“Kids Need a Head Start,” August 20)

Kindergarten in Kansas schools shouldn’t be optional — unless our state considers academic success optional. Early childhood education has become a focus of school reform in recent years, in light of research showing how the first five years of a child’s brain development lay the groundwork for future success — or failure — in school and into adulthood.

Some kids who fall behind before first grade never catch up. And society pays the price in lower graduation rates, higher crime and social costs.

That’s why a proposal by state Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, to require statewide kindergarten and lower the age of mandatory attendance from 7 to 6 deserves support in the next legislative session.

The days when kindergarten was just glorified baby-sitting are long over. Kindergartners typically begin work on several academic building blocks, such as how to use phonics, read base words, and count out loud up to 100. Studies show that kids who attended kindergarten are much more likely to be prepared for the challenges of first grade.

“Kindergarten is the foundation,” Topeka teacher Nancy Armstrong told lawmakers earlier this year. “Without it, first-grade test scores are a real struggle.”

Some members of the Amish Mennonite community have testified against the change, saying they want to keep control of when their kids start learning.

But a proposed religious exemption to the requirement should take care of this objection.

Many districts statewide — including Wichita’s — already offer all-day kindergarten. And most parents already enroll their kids in kindergarten. Not much would change there.

What the law would do, points out Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, a co-sponsor of the bill, is boost attendance for kindergartners.

Because kindergarten is now optional, some parents get the message that it’s no big deal if their kids stay home or skip days. But the learning that takes place in these early years is a big deal — as Gov. Kathleen Sebelius recognized this year in pushing her statewide pre-K initiative, which would make quality preschool available to all Kansas children.

The Legislature also should get behind the governor’s proposal last session to actually fund all-day kindergarten — at present, the state only pays districts for half-day K. Although some lawmakers balked at the initial $15 million price tag to phase in funding, this is a wise investment in the state’s kids and future work force.

Requiring kindergarten — and paying for it — sends the right message about Kansas’

Whatever happened to the idea that children belong to parents and not government, as espoused in the landmark Supreme Court decision known as Pierce v. Society of Sisters?

Pre-K Being Used to Push for More Curtailment of Family Options

In our report on early childhood education (PDF), we proposed that some legislators would use the expanded use of taxpayer-funded pre-K programs as a reason to lower the age at which kindergarten is mandatory. It may have seemed a bit alarmist at the time, but the prediction was correct.

The Parsons Sun (Senator asks state to drop mandatory school age, August 14) and Lawrence Journal World ( State lawmakers advocate mandatory kindergarten, August 14) offer the details.

From the Sun:

” A Topeka senator asked fellow lawmakers Monday to consider mandating kindergarten attendance and lowering the required age to start public school from 7 to 6.

Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, authored the proposal after researching the issue and hearing from a local teacher who struggled to educate kindergarteners who were enrolled yet frequently truant.

The teacher had no legal remedy to get parents to bring them to school regularly because Kansas doesn’t require attendance until first grade.

Such truants are often children who sorely need a structured, educational environment, Kelly said. The state invests “incredible amounts of money” in kindergarten and should assure that all enrolled children get to benefit.

“I don’t think the numbers who don’t attend are very large,” she told the Legislative Educational Planning Committee.

Currently 14 states require kindergarten attendance.”

Instead of forcing everyone into the same solution, perhaps what ought to be done is make sure that children who are enrolled in kindergarten are actually attending. The problem is truancy, not the fact that not all parents choose to enroll their students.

The article further states that there might be a religious exemption. Fine, but not every parent who opts out of kindergarten has a religious motivation–nor should one be required. Additionally, restricting the exemption to religion might put the state into the sticky business of deciding what’s a “sincerely held” religious belief.

From the Journal:

“It makes little sense to me to spend money and time on school readiness skills for 3- to 5-year-olds and leave a loophole in our laws that allows those same children to take a sabbatical until they are 7,” said state Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka.”

Like we said ….

“Kindergarten is not mandatory in Kansas, and children are required to attend school no later than age 7. Senate Bill 207 would require children attend kindergarten, and set 6 as the mandatory attendance age.”

Thus we have a double expansion of official rules: mandatory attendance, and mandatory attendance at an earlier age–regardless of the desire of the parents.

As is sometimes the case, the fact that some people abuse discretion is used as an excuse to deny it to everyone:

During a meeting Monday of the Legislative Educational Planning Committee, opposition came from the Amish Mennonite community of Reno County.

David Miller, of Partridge, said Amish children benefit from staying at home an extra year within close-knit families, and are well prepared for school.

State Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, asked Miller: “How do you respond if parents … don’t prepare their child for school?”

“That sort of thing just doesn’t exist in our community,” Miller said.

Vratil responded, “But it does exist outside your community.”

Understandably, people in the education establishment are nervous these days. NCLB is raising expectations, and threatens changes to the way of doing business of schools don’t meet targets.

But the schools should serve families; families shouldn’t have to change to accommodate the interests of their employees.

All-Day K in Lawrence

More all-day K programs are coming to Lawrence.

Says the Journal-World,

Thanks to about $600,000 in funding from the state, district leaders targeted eight schools based on needs demonstrated by assessment test scores and populations of students who receive free and reduced-price lunches. Administrators have indicated they hope to eventually expand it to all schools.

So they’re targeting the funds. Good move. But notice the plans to expand the enrollment. Does that mean all students as well?

It seems that some of the move is based, in part, on the fact that expanding to an all-day program is easier on the schedules for parents.  Said the district’s chief academic officer, “For parents, some of the positives for many of them is they are not going to have to make those arrangements about having to get children picked up in the middle of a workday and get them transported somewhere else.”

Given the relative performance of elementary versus middle and high schools, the money would probably be better used later in a student’s school career.

Schools have high hopes for ‘all-day K’, Lawrence Journal World,  July 22

Students Forced to Move to New Schools

The Lawrence school board will introduce all-day kindergarten to eight schools this fall. The schools are based on economic and academic factors.

Source: 8 schools get all-day kindergarten, Lawrence Journal World, May 15.

Wrap-up of the Legislative Session

KSDE has gone into podcasting.

On the KSDE home page, selecting News and then Podcasts will take you to some audio (and video) files from Dale Dennis (Interim Commissioner) and Veryl Peter (Director of School Finance). Look for the files “Legislative Update.”

The most recent update was recorded on May 2. In it, Dennis (with a few comments from Peter along the way) reviews the most significant legislation of the past legislative session. The roughly 25 minute presentation is divided into five segment.

We’re not sure whether these files can actually be used on an iPod or not. We were unable to import them into the iTunes software. You can hear (and see)  the files in the Windows Media player, which comes standard on many computers.

Here are some notes of the presentation.  Most of it is composed of paraphrases rather than direct quotes.

Part 1:

Increase of base aid per pupil

Increase in the weighting of at-risk students

Threshold for getting high-enrollment weighting has gone down

SB 68

Funds non-proficiency at-risk students, and says states must have an anti-bullying policy.

“Highly encourages” character education in all grades. “Gets close” to a mandate.

 

Part 2:

Update your crisis plan.

 
SB 95: No more juvenile detention facilities, but instead ‘psychiatric treatment facilities.” No other change.

SB 109: Lets districts pay new hires before schools open, as long as they are working.

SB 129: Schools must notify law enforcement of any student suspensions or expulsions. Law enforcement will notify drivers services, which will pull drivers licenses of offending students.

All day K:

Governor proposed 5-year phase in. “Everybody thinks all-day kindergarten is a great deal, unfortunately this year the money ran out.” It will not be implemented.

SB 362 KPERS: Lets non-school government employees sing up right away and not wait for a year. (School employees already had this.) Has a 5-year vesting provision. Multiplier .175 is the same. You can use a 3-year average for determining benefits. Now changed to a 5-year average for any who start after July 1, 2009. Normal retirement age is 65 +5 of services or 60 years old with 30 years of service

Part 3

Adds 2 percent COLA for 65+. Employee contribution is now 4 percent. Now, it will be (for 2009 hires) 6 percent contribution. Rate will match what the state contribution is in the future. There is also a $300, one time payment for people who retired in prior to July 1, 1997.

Unfunded liability of KPERS is a problem. Through 2033, this bill will save the state $2.6 billion, at least half of the unfunded liability will be addressed this way.

SB 2185

Covers 5 teacher scholarship programs, especially noteworthy for loan cancellation.

Other:

Idea to hold a second student count during the school year did not pass.

SB 2310

Local option budget is at 31 percent max. You have to have an election to use this. If you have a declining enrollment or COLA levy last year, you may continue what you had last year. This affects only a few districts.

Part 4

Most districts have to have an election to go from 30 percent to 31 percent LOB. They don’t think that having an election is worth the trouble for that one percent.

SB 2368

More about LOB. Allows a district to go to 32 percent with an election. Also: $400,000 for an after-school program, requires local match, 2-hour program, and a summer program. No school can get ore than $25,000 from the state

Teacher mentoring: $1,000 per teachers to serve as mentors to year-one teachers. Includes $500 for mentoring a second-year teacher.

Special ed: Still working on how much supplementary fund districts will get. 

Part 5

Go after every dollar of Medicaid that you can (Medicaid). Funding could go up to $26,500 for special ed. “That isn’t too bad.”

We’ve seen a lot of post audit activity. Recruitment and retention report: not much new. There will be a problem; 33 percent are 50+, 25 percent will be eligible for KPERS in 5 years.

Virtual schools: said we are lax and need to follow the original plan for monitoring. Districts may not give virtual school students to other districts. We will go back to original guidelines within 10 years. The rules were there but we did not monitor them.

There will be a charter school out in the next week to ten days.

An early childhood ed audit is underway.

There will be another audit for voc ed. The focus will be on the cost of individual programs.

Who’s An Advocate for Children?

Should taxpayers fund all-day kindergarten and universal pre-school? That’s a debate worth having, and reasonable people can make cogent arguments either way. But the language of the conversation could stand some improvement.

The Lawrence Journal-World recently ran an article (“County lags far behind peers for early childhood programs,” April 24 ) about a report calling for increased funding on early childhood education. Legislators and the public need to ask a lot of questions about sound policy: what are the alternative uses for the money that would be spent? Is the proposal the best way to reach the goal, or are there other avenues? And so it goes.

One individual in the story, who agrees with the push for all-day K and preschool, is identified as “a local child advocate.”

Does that mean that people who disagree with that conclusion are not “child advocates?”

We don’t mean to espouse conspiracy theories here, and the Journal-World is following convention.

But the usage brings back the power of language–and the fact that one can be a “child advocate” and still disagree with popular beliefs. In fact, sometimes disagreement may even be required.

No Money for All-Day K

 Will all-day kindergarten receive state approval? Not this year.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius last year called for funding all-day kindergarten and supports preschool education, but SB384 does little to advance that cause after lawmakers allocated millions to education. Lawmakers agreed to the education spending last year only after being warned to do so by the Kansas Supreme Court.

“She has promoted all-day kindergarten and quite frankly the Legislature just didn’t have the resources to do that right now,” Vratil said. “That’s a $71 million price tag.”

While some children might benefit from all-day K, others may not need it, making the expenditure one of the lesser priorities in education spending. Even a state government must set priorities.

Source: Early childhood education bill focuses on efficiency, KC Community News, April 11

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.”]

Mandatory Kindergarten?

Kindergarten isn’t mandatory in Kansas. Some people think it should be.

Educators say kindergarten has become so important to the development of children that it’s time for the state to make attendance mandatory. A bill sponsored by Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, and Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, would do just that. The mandatory school attendance age in Kansas is 7, and kindergarten is optional. The senators’ bill would lower the mandatory age to 6, and require children to attend at least half-day kindergarten.

One teacher says that without kindergarten, “first-grade test scores are a struggle.” We imagine that some parents of home-schooled children might disagree.

As any look at test scores would show, the problem with American (and Kansas education, for that matter) is not the lower grades. It’s the upper ones.

Source: Senators push measure to require kindergarten attendance, Topeka Capital-Journal,  February 4.

All-Day K for Lawrence?

The district debates a plan to enact all-day K. Currently 15 out of the district’s 17 buildings have all day, partial day classes. (See numbers, in PDF, from the KSDE.)

The move would cost local taxpayers $1 million per year. If implemented statewide, the move would add another $75 million to public obligations. Currently, the state gives districts money for half-day enrollment. Governor Sebelius would like to phase in support for all-day classes.

The superintendent says that as for USD 487, it’s a matter of priorities:  “For us, it’s a facilities issue, in some respect. For us, it’s mostly a general fund issue. We’ve chosen to spend money in other areas and tried to keep our costs down.”

Governor Fills “Commission on Healthy and Prepared Schools.”

Governor Sebelius created a new commission. A few days ago, she selected 13 people to sit on it. The executive order creating the commission reflects the governor’s plan to push for more early childhood education.

Will Demands Outstrip Resources?

If there’s a law of economics that is empirically verifiable, it may be this: the appetite for more goodies is insatiable. That includes items paid for by taxes.

Is it possible to have “too much” education? Health care?

The Kansas City Star, in analyzing the start of the legislative session, brings home an obvious point: without the legislature focused on dealing with the demands of the state’s supreme court, the ability “to dream” may outstrip the ability “to pay,” even with the significant reserves that the state has at the moment.

Without a ready-made crisis awaiting lawmakers, they are instead compiling wish lists that, at the very least, guarantee the session will have something for everyone:

Renewable energy. Affordable health care. The $700 million maintenance backlog at state universities. Economic development. Gambling. All-day kindergarten. Stem-cell research. Tax relief. The state’s burgeoning prison population.

[snip]

One key challenge may be avoiding the temptation to drain the state’s suddenly healthy bank account, which is many millions of dollars above last year’s estimates.

The Legislature still has to make sure it pays for the second and third years of the $466 million school finance plan passed last year. Old debts are coming due. The cost of providing social service programs to the poor and disabled continues to rise.

“The revenue increase has been phenomenal,” said Sen. John Vratil, a Leawood Republican. “…But we still have more demands on our available resources than we have available resources.”

Source: Wish lists offer something for everyone, Kansas City Star, January 8.

Another Look at the Legislative Session

What does the governor have in mind for this legislative session? Increased spending, and removing the popular vote from the selection of the Board of Education, and by extension, the commissioner of education.

“Sebelius said she continued to believe it was in the state’s best interests to finance all-day kindergarten in school districts. Currently, the state pays for half-day classes.

“We won’t be backing away from that,” she said. “It continues to be a passion of mine.”

The governor also vowed to support legislation that would allow local school districts to independently increase a “local option budget.” Such budgets are a provision in state law used by some districts to generate additional revenue through local property tax collections.

Sebelius said she remained dedicated to the idea of adopting a constitutional amendment that would convert the Kansas State Board of Education from an elective body to a board appointed by the governor.

“I believe that it is an appropriate conversation to have,” she said. “I’ll talk with legislators about that.”

Source: Education remains in session, Topeka Capital-Journal

All-Day Babysitting?

Will K-12 become birth-12?

That may sound overwrought, we admit. Nobody is proposing that, at least now yet. But that’s the thought that came to mind in reading an article in the LJW on all-day kindergarten.

The article had the usual discussion of costs, local versus state funding, what various politicians said, and so forth. But what really struck us was the sentiment expressed by some advocates of all-day K.

“One of the side benefits of all-day kindergarten programs is that they would help some families with child care issues.

‘You’ve got a lot of two-career families. And you’re having to shuffle the kids to another location in the middle of the day,’ Morgan said. ‘It’s difficult to do.’

Sally Kelsey, chairwoman of the Cordley School Site Council, said day-care costs can run several hundreds of dollars a month per child for working parents.”

We’re willing to admit that some children will benefit from all-day K. But there’s something unseemly about pushing for it on the grounds that it will shift the cost of day care onto the taxpayers.

Source: Dave Toplikar, Switch to ‘all-day K’ would cost city $1 million, Lawrence Journal-World, December 3.

The Existing System is Failing Them … Should We Add More?

The public K-12 system works reasonably well for some children, though not for others.

And the way to respond to that problem is . . . to extend the system to even younger ages?

That’s what the group Kansas Action for Children is advocating.

After noting that 57 Kansas City area schools did not make their proficiency targets under No Child Left Behind, the number of schools in Kansas that failed to make these targets has actually increased, and one in three children in the fourth grade were “below basic” in reading, Shannon Cotsoradis calls for even more schooling.

Whether or not she wants the local school districts that have failed these children to take over the days of three year olds, she doesn’t say. But there will be more tax money involved, if the group has its way.

She writes that her group “filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Kansas Supreme Court a few years ago. In it, we contended ‘that adequate funding and support for early education programs throughout the state, especially high quality pre-kindergarten … should be considered.'”

With the Montoy controversy resolved (for now), and Governor Sebelius returned to office in a convincing factor (Sebelius is an advocate of pre-K education), expect to see this issue make its way to the legislature next year.

Source: Children need to start learning earlier in life, Kansas City Star, December 4, 2006

Gov Sebelius Vows Early Ed Push

From the LJW: “On public school education, Sebelius said she will seek to increase early childhood education and all-day kindergarten.”

Doubtless, some children benefit from early childhood education and all-day kindergarten. Whether these two programs should be universally delivered and paid for by taxpayers is another question. Financing this move is certainly ambitious: “During her news conference, Sebelius also said she would not increase taxes.”

Will Pre-K Result in Another Court Decision?

Governor Sebelius has been pushing a universal pre-K program. Reasonable people can disagree on the merits of the idea–we think that they are oversold–but should the governor get her way, we wonder if another court fight will afflict Kansas.

This comes to mind while reading an article about a pre-K program in Florida. The Kansas connection? Sebelius’s advisor on the subject doesn’t like Florida’s program, saying that they have done it on the cheap. Abby Thorman says, of Florida, “Because of both the low per-child funding and the real absence of standards for high quality, Florida became the model of exactly what we didn’t want to do.”

The St. Petersburg Times notes that “The constitutional amendment that established pre-K in this state mandated that it be high quality. And an advisory panel recommended specific criteria to meet the mark.”

Someehow, this all sounds vaguely familiar.  Imagine this: Kansas sets up a pre-K program. Some providers are unhappy with their funding. They find some enterprising lawyers, and another lawsuit is underway.

All-Day Kindergarten?

The Lawrence school board is discussing the introduction of all-day kindergarten.

Some schools in the district used to have it, but it was dropped for budgetary reasons. Now the board wants to reintroduce it.

The problem is funding. Switching from half- to all-day kindergarten would cost the district almost $1 million.

No one knows whether the Legislature will funnel that kind of money into the district’s budget for 2006-07.

Be sure to read through the article to the end; there’s a lively debate going on in the comments section.

All-Day Kindergarten?

Could all-day kindergarten be coming to a school district near you? The Hutchinson News reports that “Lawmakers don’t appear interested in committing enough funds for it, but the concept of all-day kindergarten in all Kansas schools certainly drew verbal support from all sides.”

The State Board of Education, the News says, has already signed onto the idea. But where will the new money come from? Costs range from $44 to $75 million.

Though advocates cite the importance of early childhood learning, American schools do pretty well in international comparisons of early-grade students. The problems develop in the later grades. Simply put, the higher the grade level in the K-12 system, the more American students are losing ground.

While the idea of addressing problems at a young age has an intuitive appeal, perhaps any extra effort (including but not limited to funding) ought to be focused in the higher grades.