The Fight for Kindergarten
I live in Montgomery County, Maryland, a school district that has offered half-day kindergarten to all kids for decades and full-day kindergarten for many years. So it is always a tiny shock to encounter the battle that is still going on in some places over whether schools should offer kindergarten.
I was reminded of it when I went to Indian River School District in Delaware a couple of weeks ago. This is the first year of full-day kindergarten for all kids, and it was a huge fight to get it, according to one school board member, who said that many of his colleagues still consider kindergarten a baby-sitting service.
Back in 2004 I visited Frankford Elementary School (since renamed Clayton), led then by Sharon Brittingham. She had told me that she was so convinced of the importance of getting students into all-day kindergarten that she had paid for it out of her (federal) Title I budget, since the district wouldn’t pay for it.
She had also started working with all the day care providers in the area, providing them with training in how to create a language- and number-rich environment for the children in their care. Her school was experiencing the first wave of immigrants from Mexico and Central America, drawn to jobs in the nearby poultry processing plants, and she wanted the kids to be as prepared as possible.
It was that kind of passion and thoughtfulness that helped make Frankford one of the top elementary schools in the state.
Ten years later, the district, which has been improving for more than a decade, has followed her lead in providing kindergarten for all. I wrote this week in The Huffington Post about one class I saw.