House Bill 4662 is a step in the right direction.
This was pointed out a few weeks ago in the following editorial:
Oakland Press: All-day kindergarten promises benefits to kids (04/09/08)
The bill proposes to “require full-day kindergarten beginning with the 2011-2012 school year”. Unfortunately it adds a condition; it is only required “for schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law for two consecutive years.”
The legislature should instead require all-day kindergarten for all schools.
In its analysis of the legislation, MichiganVotes.com cites MDE data showing that one-third of Michigan schools already offer full-day kindergarten, and another third offer options for all day programs.
Not all parents like it, as shown in a recent Oakland Press article (found here). But some boards are offering half-day kindergarten as an option for those parents who feel their child is not ready for an all day program.
Most studies I’ve seen seem to show that children who have gone through a good all-day kindergarten enter first grade better prepared than those who have only had a half-day. No great surprise there. Some of those studies conclude that this advantage seems to wear off by fifth grade. There is no great surprise there either, given that most moves to all-day kindergarten are myopically focused on kindergarten, and do not include changes to the first grade curriculum to allow for these better prepared children. And, if better prepared kindergarteners need a more challenging first grade curriculum, then those better prepared first graders will need a more challenging second grade curriculum, and so on.
The MichiganVotes.com analysis also articulately cites an argument I’ve made for years, “Proponents argue House Bill 4662 is pre-funded, and not an unfunded policy mandate. Since the state currently pays districts a full foundation allowance for each kindergarten student attending a half-day program, school district officials are obligated to offer a full-day of education. If school district officials are currently using their full per pupil foundation allowance to subsidize other areas of the school operation, they will need to re-prioritize their budgets, and direct the state aid for full-time kindergarten to the program for which it is intended.”
There have been a few more announcements recently in Oakland County, including one today about Walled Lake:
Oakland Press: District offers parents option of all-day kindergarten (04/26/08)
This now means that 12 of the 28 districts in Oakland County offer free all day Kindergarten:
- Oak Park
- Royal Oak
- Walled Lake
The rest charge parents for various “extended” options. This is downright wrong, given that the school is already receiving taxpayer dollars from the state.