First of all, I didn't know that kindergarten was not in every school district in the country. Apparently, there are school districts in New Hampshire that have not had kindergarten.
Gov. John Lynch on Tuesday signed legislation extending the program in which the state gives communities money to help build kindergartens. The law extends the program for another year.
Lynch said the program is an important part of expanding public kindergarten to every school district. Twelve districts still do not offer public kindergarten.
Under the program, the state will cover 75 percent of the cost of building kindergartens, and help cover the costs of the initial equipment needed to run a kindergarten program.
Hey, I am one of those people who think free public education should be offered to infants in the form of high quality daycare so I completely applaud Governor Lynch's effort to provide state money to help build kindergartens in districts that do not have them. Why do I have the feeling that the school districts without kindergartens are probably not the richest of districts?
Children are learning from birth. And if a child is born into the ideal family with parents who have the free-time to help their young children learn and/or can afford to enroll their children in early childhood education classes and preschool, this child gets a head start in life. If they live in a district with kindergarten, they start kindgerten off better than the child that does not have these advantages.
But if a person is born into a family with a single parent working two or three jobs just to put mac and cheese on the table, this child may not get the early child learning experiences he or she needs. This child starts kindergartern a step behind.
Research indicates that early childhood education helps a child ability to learn in the future.
Peisner-Feinberg, et. al. (1999) have tracked the performance of children, some of whom had attended preschools characterized as high-quality and some who attended poor-quality programs, from age three through second grade. Children who had participated in the higher-quality programs:
Performed better on measures of both cognitive skills (e.g., math and language abilities) and social skills (e.g., interactions with peers, problem behaviors) in child care and through the transition into school... [In addition,] the quality of the child care experience continued to affect their development at least through kindergarten and in many cases through the end of second grade.... Children who are often at risk of not doing well in school were more sensitive to the effects of poor-quality care and received more benefits from high-quality care (1999, 1-2).
David Denton, director of school readiness and reading for the Southern Regional Education Board, reports on "methodologically sound evaluations [of prekindergarten programs] in five SREB states--Florida, Georgia, Maryland, South Carolina and Texas--that compared children who completed the state preschool program with similar children who did not:
In each of these five states, participation in the prekindergarten program improved school readiness, raised scores on achievement tests in reading and mathematics, and reduced the likelihood that a child would be required to repeat a grade in elementary school (2001, 14).
We as a society are leaving our children behind. This is unacceptable. Research indicates that much more can be done to help children learn early on in life and we are ignoring it.
Congratulations to John Lynch for ensuring that kindergarten will be provided to more children in New Hampshire. It is a step in the right direction. But more needs to be done.