This is an open letter directed to Governor Snyder of Michigan and State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. This letter comes at a time where there is a great campaign that is going on championing for districts to merge and eradicate boundaries that have existed for long in order to save taxpayers’ money. The benefit derived from merging a number of districts in order to reduce various administrative and operational overheads are a good thing in these tough economic times that has been experienced in the country since the year 2008. Cost reducing and restructuring of public schools is a good but should not be a reason of opposing a move of introducing full day kindergarten in school districts.
The full day kindergarten is slowly becoming a norm in the elementary schools in the country. The trend is slowly overtaking the half day kindergarten that has been practiced for a long time. This new program has emerged with different states handling it differently. In some states this full day program is funded by the government while in some others it is yet to be implemented. (Hare R. D et al, 2001, p.3)
Introduced in the country in the mid of 19th century and attracting public attention in the latter years of the century, many laws and policies have been enacted that have resulted in incorporating kindergarten into the primary school education system. (Karweit, N. 1992, p.34)
It is obvious that in Michigan and most of the states in America do not include a full day kindergarten (referred as FD-K) in the K-12 system of education that is funded by the government. Apart from a few states that have included full day kindergarten in their education system, about 34 states in this country offer half day kindergarten while the remaining ones including Michigan have not included it in the education system.
The study also showed a correlation between the behavior of a teenager and the early education program that one underwent. The research indicated that children who got a full day kindergarten had reduced chances of juvenile delinquencies than those who didn’t enroll in the program. In the study, children who had passed through the full day kindergarten were more focused in their education and their work and this made them to be a more productive and law abiding citizens than those who were not. Full day kindergarten also helped in improving the language of the student who learnt English as a second language. The research also showed that children who have undergone a full day kindergarten exhibited unique level of nonacademic strengths such as emotional competence or positive approaches to learning and the consistency in their approach to various challenges in the environment.
The state under Governor Snyder and State Superintendent Flanagan should try to acquit themselves with the benefits of full day kindergarten and provide for with the necessary resources both trained teachers and classroom materials. The full day kindergarten should not be scrapped in a bid of saving taxpayers’ money since the benefit derived by the society outweighs the cost of implementing and sustaining the program. A number of the states in the nation have adopted a full day kindergarten while majority have at least a half a day government sponsored type. The state should put more emphasis on the early childhood education as it is the state, society and the country in general that stands to benefit from good morals that have been instilled in our children leading them to become more responsible citizens. The good morals learnt from childhood always have a great impact on the kind of life one will live. (Lash A et al 2008, p.17)
Although introduction of full day kindergarten has posed a question of who is supposed to fund it, the state should the one to fund the program so that it can be able to bring some equality between those who are financially stable and those who are not. The lack of this system would make many slum-dwelling children to develop unsocial behaviors that have a negative implication to the wellness of the society. When funded by the state the program can be accessible to all children across the socio-economic status, therefore helping in creating good citizens out of the sons and daughters of her people. (Karweit, N. 1992)
Cryan, J. R.; Sheehan, R., Wiechel, J., & Bandy-Hedden, I. G. (1992). "Success outcomes of full-day kindergarten: More positive behavior and increased achievement in the years after". Early Childhood Research Quarterly 7 (2): 187–203.
Hare R. D., Howard E. M., Prince D. L. (2001). Longitudinal effects of kindergarten. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 1, 1-3.
Karweit, N. (1992). "The kindergarten experience." Educational Leadership, 49(6), 82–86. EJ 441 182.
Karweit N. L., Slavin R. E., Wasik B. A.(1993). Preventing early school failure: What works? Association for supervision of curriculum development.
Towers, J. M. (1991). "Attitudes toward the all-day, everyday kindergarten." Children Today
Lash A., Bae S., Barrat V., Burr E., Fong T.(2008). Full-day kindergarten and student achievement: A literature review. U.S. Department of Education, REL West Technical Assistance Response. Washington, DC.
I hereby want to address this open letter to the governor Snyder of Michigan and State Superintendent Mike Flanagan concerning a complete funding of full day kindergarten in Michigan State. This letter comes at a time when there been a heightened call of incorporating a full day kindergarten in Michigan and in the country as a whole. The proponents of the program have continued to pressure the government to accept the program although they have a little evidence to back their argument.
It is unfortunate that this move comes in a time when there have been calls of reducing the state expenses in the country. Various states and a number of lawmakers in the country have called on the government to reduce school district boundaries in order to cut and reduce the state spending on offering education. Ironically, the move of championing for the adoption of full day kindergarten comes at this time of economic hardship contradicting a call of reducing state expenditure on education. Adoption of Full day kindergarten will come with an added cost of education in all states in the country. There is need of additional teaching staff and aide that are needed to implement the program of full day kindergarten. There is also a need to increase a classroom space. These and many other costs will increase the burden to the country and the taxpayers. This cost is unnecessary because there have been little benefits of full day kindergarten. (Clark, P. A., & Kirk, E. W. 2000, p.230)
The idea of kindergarten first came into existence in early 19th century and was first introduced in United States of America in the mid 19th century. Later towards late 19th century the issue attracted the public attention. There have been various debates in the country concerning the sponsor of the program. Various states have handled this program of kindergarten in different ways although majority of the states in America have adopted half a day kindergarten in their school program. One of the importance of kindergarten is that they help in preparing a child for the rigorous learning activities of grade one. This helps in transition of a child to grade one since tendencies of stress are reduced. It is true the benefit of early childhood education cannot be refuted and it is true that there have been little benefits of full day kindergarten as compared to half day kindergarten. (Germino-Hausken, E. et al 2004, p.20)
The research conducted by Lee et al (2004) suggested that it was not a matter of spending more time in class that guarantees a child a proper education. This study suggested that there are various factors that determines the effectiveness of a program whether half a day or full day kindergarten. The research cited the capability and the skills of a teacher. If a teacher is not well qualified, the program would not be successful. Children too differed from one another. The research showed that different children had different learning capabilities and different absorption rate of learning. For some children and families, a good quality half day kindergarten program will offer sufficient experiences for the development of strong school readiness and social skills, while also providing time for other life experiences within the home or other community settings. For other children, the additional time spent in the structured learning and social activities of a full-day program will provide more ideal preparation for formal education. (Natale, J. A. March 2001, p.24)
The full day kindergarten increases the stress and fatigue of a child due to the rigorous activities that a child go through a in a given day. Considering the shorter attention span of an infant at this tender age, full day kindergarten cannot be of much help. (Da Costa, J. & Bell, S. 2001, p.56).
The effect of full day kindergarten is eroded with time. It does not go beyond grade three or four in elementary education system. The proponents of full day kindergarten argue that the learning received in this program is evidenced in character shaping of an individual. This argument can be refuted by various researches that have indicated that an individual’s character is determined by various factors that include peer pressure, environment and proper parenting. (Hough, D., & Bryde, S. 1996, p 3).
Full day kindergarten reduces the time span that is needed between a mother and the child. A teacher is not able to attend to every child’s needs. This may result in children developing a negative attitude towards school and will increase chances of withdrawal.
In conclusion, the length of school day is not an issue and is only one dimension of kindergarten experience. Other important issues include the nature of the kindergarten curriculum and the quality of teaching, which includes hiring skilled and experienced teachers. In general, research suggests that, as long as the curriculum is developmentally appropriate and intellectually stimulating, either full- or half-day scheduling can provide an adequate introduction to school. Therefore, the government and the state should focus on other factors such as appropriate curriculum and hiring of skilled teachers than boggling children with a long and a tedious learning day. (Morrow, L. M., Strickland, D. S., & Woo, D. G.1998)
Da Costa, J. & Bell, S. (2001). A Comparison of the literacy effects of full-day vs. half-day kindergarten. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of American Educational Research Association, Seattle, WA.
Germino-Hausken, E., Walston, J., & Rathbun, A. H. (2004). Kindergarten teachers: Public and private school teachers of the kindergarten class of 1998-1999. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
Hough, D., & Bryde, S. (1996). Effects of full-day kindergarten on student achievement and affect. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the American Educational Research Association, New York, NY.
Lee, V. et al. (2001; rev. 2002). Full-day vs. half-day kindergarten: Which children learn more in which programs? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Anaheim, CA
Natale, J. A. (2001, March). Early learners: Are full-day kindergartens too much, too soon? American School Board Journal, 22–25.
Clark, P. A., & Kirk, E. W. (2000). All-day kindergarten. Childhood Education 76(4), 228–231.
Gullo, D. F. (1990). "The changing family context: Implications for the development of all-day kindergarten." Young Children, 45(4), 35–39. EJ 409 110.
Morrow, L. M., Strickland, D. S., & Woo, D. G.(1998). "Literacy instruction in half- and whole-day kindergarten." Newark, DE: International Reading Association. ED 436 756.