Just a heads up for a story you’ll be able to see in the Journal News and online at Lohud.com on Sunday, a look at the surprising fact that kindergarten is not required by the state of New York, which makes it vulnerable to budget cuts.
It’s on the table in East Ramapo, where voters defeated the school budget, the only school budget to go down in the three counties. East Ramapo may be the first place in the state to eliminate kindergarten entirely. While it’s not required, virtually all of the state’s public school districts that have elementary school (minus special act districts) have at least a half-day program. Syracuse is the only place in New York that requires it, although there’s a move in New York City as well to require full-day kindergarten.
Gary Stern, who is at the Education Writer’s Association seminar/workshop in Philadelphia today, had a chance to ask two of the distinguished guests their take on the issue:
Will Kinder, an education analyst with the Children’s Defense Fund, said that out-dated thinking leads school systems to reduce full-day kindergarten as a cost-cutting tool.
“We don’t propose cutting 12th grade to half-day,” he said. “But we do that with kindergarten in spite of the fact that we know the importance of early learning. Students in full-day kindergarten show better results than students in half-day. But we cut time from 6-year-olds.”
Harriet Dichter, vice president of national policy for the Ounce of Prevention Fund, which promotes early childhood education, said that there is still a widespread belief that early learning isn’t real education and should be done in the home.
“It’s a real undercurrent out there and affects budgeting decisions in many states,” she said.