There are always elections ahead. That is true even if you live in a small area on the west side of state. Here in Sequim we have a school bond election to consider very soon.
We all wish we could ignore these requests for more money but they just keep returning. That can be considered negative or positive. Thank goodness we keep being asked for our opinion. We are the ones who get to say yes or no. One of the next decisions you have an opportunity to make is on the school bond election.
I am not connected with the school district. I get no pay from them at all. Actually, I think it would be nice if the school district did assume a greater responsibility for the education of parents and especially the education of parents of our youngest citizens, but for lack of funds they don’t.
I am in favor of the coming school bond election and mostly for one reason: kindergarten expansion. I think about being in my 20s or 30s today and how I would feel about bringing my family with two young children to Sequim. If I drove just a bit further and moved to the Port Angeles School District, my young ones would be eligible for all day kindergarten. If I moved into Sequim, they couldn’t have the advantages of all-day kindergarten.
So what are the advantages? Children attending full-day kindergarten learn more in reading and math over the kindergarten year than those in half-day programs. Full-day students have higher achievement test scores in all areas tested except handwriting. These children also have higher report card academic marks in both the primary and middle school years. Full-day kindergartners have more time and opportunity to play with language, explore subjects in depth, have a more flexible, individualized learning environment and have more individual and small-group interactions with the teacher.
Full-day kindergartners are more than twice as likely as half-day kindergartners to reach grade levels without repeating a grade.
And there’s more …
Researchers calculated a savings of $2 million for every 1,000 kindergartners when grades are not repeated. Not only is there a financial cost — there is a brain cost. Between birth and 6 years of age, a child’s brain is the most receptive to learning.
But the advantages aren’t just academic. Parents experience less stress scheduling child care and transportation and have an easier time getting involved in their child’s classroom or talking with their child’s teacher. Low-income parents of full-day kindergarten students can enroll their children in a quality early education program and they can do it for free. Children with their boundless energy handle the longer day with ease.
Researchers also have found that school attendance of full-day kindergarten students is more regular and even remains that way through the third grade. Children in full-day kindergarten are more likely to approach the teacher and less likely to express withdrawal, anger, shyness or blaming behavior than half-day kindergartners.
The full-day students had more time to interact socially with their peers and learn about one another (school.elps.k12.mi.us/kindergarten-study/Full_Day_Benefits.pdf). These are just some of the advantages that most people want by having a child in full-day kindergarten.
Why doesn’t Sequim have all-day kindergarten now? Money is the reason. The school superintendent here said they have estimated it would cost $1.2 million to expand our kindergarten to all day. The district doesn’t have that money. The district sees advantages for families to have all-day kindergarten but the money reality keeps that from happening.
When you see just some of the advantages of sending a child to full-day kindergarten you can understand why a family would move to an area that has that advantage. But what about for people who don’t have a 5-year-old? Sequim has many families who are far beyond sending a child to kindergarten. Why should they vote for school bonds or for all-day kindergarten?
Every town needs young people. They make the economy vibrant and bring resources into the area. They make it fun to go grocery shopping. They pay taxes and help older people. They are available to hire for small or large jobs you may have difficulty doing as you grow older. Young people may be the educated and trained people that provide you with the health care you need.
We need young people to keep the town going. A town is in trouble when we have a large imbalance of young and old. Help Sequim get and keep that balance.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and director of Parenting Matters Foundation, Reach Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 681-2250.