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Port Chester Residents Join Push for Mandated Full-Day Kindergarten

Assemblywoman says every child should have the ability to go to full-day kindergarten.

Bills to ensure New York children have access to full-day kindergarten will be introduced in Albany by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale.

At a press conference Monday with members of Westchester United, Paulin said she wanted to remove school districts' ability to cut kindergarten as a cost-saving measure.

"We want to ensure each and every child in New York State has the benefit of full-day kindergarten," she said.

The bills Paulin will be introducing would require kindergarten for all 5 year olds and would mandate that kindergarten be full-day.

She said that right now the state requires schools to provide education for 5 year olds, though many people are not aware of that.

Paulin said, if a school district does not have kindergarten and a parent wants their child in school, the child has to be put in first grade.

Rabbi Seth Limmer of Congregation B'nai Yisrael in Armonk questioned why kindergarten is ever an option, when studies show it gives children developmental advantages.

"Do we want to be a state that leaves children behind?" he said.

Melissa Robinson of Port Chester used one of her children as an example to show the effects of kindergarten on a child's growth.

She said when her son first went to kindergarten he didn't know anyone.

"After the fourth week when school began, he was telling me the names of his friends," Robinson said, adding that he was getting better at reading and writing and working with others.

In March, Port Chester schools had proposed cutting kindergarten to a half day to try to save money in the budget. The district reversed its position prior to the May budget vote.

The Rev. Bruce Baker of All Souls Parish Presbyterian Church in Port Chester said cutting kindergarten was a huge concern for the village's residents.

"Many of our families are parents who both have to work to pay the rent," he said. "If their children did not have kindergarten, it would put a huge burden on them."

Yonkers resident Herriberto Contreras said he felt kindergarten was an essential part of early education.

"It sets the stage for success," he said.

Contreras said it makes him angry that cutting children's education can be used as a way to balance a budget.

"This is not acceptable," he said. "All children deserve a fair and guaranteed start."

Paulin represents the 88th Assembly District, 88th district, which includes Scarsdale, Eastchester, Tuckahoe, Bronxville, Pelham, Pelham Manor and parts of New Rochelle and White Plains.

Westchester United is a network of 19 synagogues, churches, mosques and community groups working to build a nonpartisan power base of Westchester County residents.

Cadeyrn December 05, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Mr. Food, Much of what you say is absolutely true. Many parents escape certain responsibilities by ceding obligations to the educrats. More an more schools are intruding on areas that were once the domain of parents. I'm amazed that more parents are not in complete alarm over such things. The new excuse is "work". They're all too busy for this parenting stuff. Well, then perhaps that thought should have been a primary one BEFORE you decided to make your child an almost ward of the schools. Those schools are not free. They are funded by property owners who were not a part of your decision to bring a child into this world. That child is your responsibility. The community, at large, has a responsibility to educate each generation for a successful transition to adult-citizen. But that commitment should not be misconstrued as a license to pawn off one's parental duties out of convenience ... while inconveniencing others in some fashion.
misu38 December 05, 2012 at 02:18 AM
It takes gumption to equate a parent advocating full day kindergarten with wanting to pawn off their child to the school for convenience. I'm certain that argument will hold water with many of the parents whose children already attend full day kindergarten. Oh yes, by the way, I'm also sure the parents of children attending full time kindergarten programs at top- rated schools in Scarsdale, Chappaqua, Briarcliff, Armonk amongst a few, are also absolutely in dire need for this free day care you both reference. The US Dept of Ed now cites that 72% of kindergarten is now full-day. Higher than what I quoted earlier. Also, the No Child Left Behind act requires that kindergartners are able to read, write and do basic math before moving to 1st grade--logistically difficult to accomplish in only a few hours a day. If you believe these kids are just coloring and making pasta necklaces in school, then your thinking is outdated. By the way, I'm a homeowner too. And you know what's interesting, property values decrease when school districts fail to achieve good scores. Full day kindergarten has shown to benefit students academically and socially in the long term. I suppose by way of your thinking, all levels of education must be an extended form of child care. Why stop at kindergarten?
Cadeyrn December 05, 2012 at 12:35 PM
misu38, you, too, misconstrue. Kindergarten is educationally sound. But the effectiveness of a full day for five year olds is still a matter of debate. The law of diminishing returns is not flipped on its ear because education is in the mix. My irritation is not with a strong kindergarten program. My bother is based on people who see kindergarten as a day care alternative without regard to the impact on already overburdened taxpayers. We are not far from the complete collapse of the public education system. Personnel expenses are crushing house-poor homeowners already. We're thisclose to a taxpayer uprising that'll hammer the entire system. If expenses continue as they have the day will come when budgets will fail with consequential regularity. Of course, there's a linkage between home values and district performance. But you insist that the mere presence of such opportunity assures success. That's the sort of nonsense that's create a system with alarming performance statistics. More money ... and even more hours ... is not the guaranteed solution you fantasize about. Education should be a purposeful, result-driven effort. All the funding in the world does not create purposefulness. That has been the canard.
George Datino December 05, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Back in March, when this topic came up as part of the budget process, I did some "googleing" on the subject and found a vast array of studies, results, and opinions. Of course I try and take such studies with a grain of salt since most are conducted by educators about education, so one sees the conflict of interest. There was one study in particular that I found most interesting that compared students whose home environments were conducive to extra work and study vs. a group of students where that environment did not exist. The first group of students had 1/2 day Kindergarten while that latter had full day. The study showed that at the end of the school year, as what would be expected, the group of students that had the full day were farther ahead in academic skills. However, upon returning in the fall, the study showed that those gains were pretty much lost as the students whose home environment included home reinforcement over the summer led to a much stronger retention as to what was learned while the other students did not demonstrate the same retention. As a side note, the study commented that full day kindergarten does not translate into twice as much learning. That full day kindergarten spends more time with that extra half day doing non-academic teaching and more social activities. similar conclusions were reached by a study conducted by Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal. An article about her results are here http://www.pittmag.pitt.edu/?p=548.
Aidan December 05, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Long Overdue Head Start Evaluation Shows No Lasting Benefit for Children http://blog.heritage.org/2010/01/14/long-overdue-head-start-evaluation-shows-no-lasting-benefit-for-children/

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