Thursday, January 28, 2010

All Day Kindergarten Gets the Axe

I've been quite bad.

I've been watching that "talk box" the District warned about. My state's latest idea to "solve the budget crisis" is to eliminate all day kindergarten. This is not the first time this idea has been tossed around, but the governor is calling for a special session (as soon as tomorrow) to continue hacking at the budget. So, it is very possible that tomorrow will eliminate the all day kindergarten program in this state.

Now, I am the first to admit that I am no expert in early childhood education. One big part of the reason I cried my eyes out when Principal Sadie forced me to move to third grade is that I don't know a lot about early childhood. That being said, I am going to talk as an educator now. I've always contended that education and politics are married to each other for better or worse. I am starting to feel like we, in education, are married to an abusive spouse! If only we could leave him!

Our state ranks 48th in education right now. Guess where our state ranks in funding of education: 48th! My district is the most successful elementary district (in terms of test scores in the state), yet due to No Child Left Behind, we are currently facing penalties for failing to make district AYP (although every single school made AYP individually). We also have all schools ranked as excelling or highly performing. It's not good enough, though, because we are not on target to reach the 100% goal. Never mind that a significant percentage of kids are tested in a language they don't understand. Never mind that this includes students with diagnosed learning disabilities. We need to be 100% successful. Who made this goal? Politicians.

We are under extreme pressure to meet our goals, but we continue to face increasing obstacles and decreasing support. Reductions in certified staff, increase in class size, reductions in supplies, and now possibly reductions in the amount of time we are given to instruct kids in these early years. We are dealing with greater poverty in this area which is the number one enemy of elementary education. When a stable environment doesn't exist at home, our job gets harder. Period. Call it the achievement gap, call it bias in schooling, call it whatever you want, but poverty has always and will always make effective education a more difficult goal.

These are tough times and I understand that, but I know how all this plays out. We lose resources, funding, and time; but it is demanded that we increase our effectiveness exponentially. No one will say, "Okay, you will not face penalties this year if student achievement falls." Politicians will rant and rave when our performance flounders about what can be done to save public education. I'll tell you what they can do: pay up.

I just saw on the news that this city (a huge city FYI) laid of 12% of the police force. Scary. Anyway, the chief said it best, "we cannot guarantee the same level of service when we face these cuts." Neither can we, and I don't want to hear anymore political educators proclaiming that we can. The public needs to know the truth: quality of education will suffer. The End. That is all I can say tonight.

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