Editorial on all-day K totally missed the mark

Dear Editor:
We are disappointed that the editorial regarding all-day
kindergarten published May 27 didn’t provide readers with accurate
information. The intent of the governing board’s decision is to
provide students with the time necessary to master the state
standards and engage in developmentally appropriate learning
activities.
Dear Editor:

We are disappointed that the editorial regarding all-day kindergarten published May 27 didn’t provide readers with accurate information. The intent of the governing board’s decision is to provide students with the time necessary to master the state standards and engage in developmentally appropriate learning activities. In a community that cares about its children, it is unfortunate that adult issues rather than issues that most impact the achievement of students were highlighted in the editorial.

The editorial states that the board rushed to judgment on all-day kindergarten. In fact, staff has been exploring extended-day K options for more than two years; this year over half of our elementary schools offer either a full-day or an extended-day program. Discussions with kindergarten teachers started in March of 2004 and in July of 2004, a planning group met to begin discussions about a joint district/union committee to look at kindergarten program options. In September of last year, the Kindergarten Redesign Committee, comprised of representative K teachers, was jointly chartered by the district and the union.

The recommendation for the above mentioned charter outcome was completed and presented to the governing board on April 20. We would like to again thank members of the Kindergarten Redesign Committee for their dedicated work in developing detailed recommendations for the district and governing board.

The editorial also asserts that research studies on all-day kindergarten were not examined. This is not true. It is difficult to understand why the editorial board would neglect to verify the facts regarding the process that led to the governing board’s decision. A number of recent research articles on all-day kindergarten were distributed to both committee members and later to board members in the packet which is available to the public. These studies clearly document the benefits of a full-day K program for all students, especially those living in poverty and for second-language learners. During the year-long Kindergarten Redesign Committee proceedings, a three-inch binder full of research evidence obtained from Los Angeles Unified School District by one of the committee members was copied and distributed to each representative.

Another inaccurate statement in this editorial is that parents were not asked their opinion. Parents in GUSD were polled, and more than 70 percent supported the all day kindergarten program. Fully 80 percent of Eliot School parents support the implementation of an all-day K program.

The editorial also implies that all children in GUSD would be forced to attend a full-day program once the decision is implemented districtwide. Again, this inference is not based on fact. The Rod Kelley all-day kindergarten program offers parents whose students are performing at grade level the choice of going home after the morning session. To date, no one has exercised that option.

The editorial concludes that the board did not follow due diligence in making the decision to implement a full-day kindergarten at all sites within the next decade.

A follow-up guest column by Marilyn Dumlao states that in December of 2004 Superintendent Edwin Diaz addressed the committee and reported that the district could not implement all-day kindergarten districtwide in 2005-06 due to facilities and budget constraints. This is correct. That is why the board decision reflects the sensitivity to facility and budget by approving a long-term implementation timeline for an all-day kindergarten program within the next 10 years. The fact that board will take separate board actions on all future all-day kindergarten program recommendations clearly shows the board’s intent to ensuring fiscal responsibility. It is worth mentioning, however, that most schools in the first two phases could implement at very little additional fiscal costs to the district.

A critical consideration that the editorial failed to mention was the need to extend the instructional time for kindergarten students in order to teach the required state standards. Preparing students to be ready for first grade by mastering the 156 standards in English language arts, math, science, and social studies requires more than a three-hour instructional day.

Olivia R. Schaad,

GUSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction,

Co-Chair of the Kindergarten Redesign Committee

Jacqueline Horejs,

GUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services

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