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Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2008

Original post made by Michelle Yee, Downtown North, on Apr 20, 2007

In November, Californians defeated Proposition 82, the "Universal Preschool" act. April 25th, however, the "Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2008" (AB 1236), will be heard before the Assembly Committee on Education on April 25th. The Kindergarten Readiness act provides kindergarten-readiness classes within our public schools system for all children too young to begin kindergarten.

Californians voted against funding public preschool, and yet this bill would offer essentially the same thing. The Kindergarten Readiness bill would require kindergarten readiness classes to be taught by state credentialed teachers in facilities paid for by the public school system and offered to all children who will enter Kindergarten the following year.

I am outraged that the public is being held accountable for preschool even though we voted against it!

Comments (10)

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Posted by SkepticAl
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 20, 2007 at 11:37 pm

I too voted against the proposition, but I would be open-minded about a new bill. I don't know any details yet. The reasons that I voted against the meausre had to do with its mechanisms for funding and implementation rather than the idea itself. I know I'm not the only one who voted against the measure without intending to reject the idea completely and for all time, so I would suggest that the energy invested in outrage would be better spent in providing arguments against this measure, other than mentioning a past measure.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2007 at 7:15 am

I voted against it because it would have required all pre-k to go to pre-school.

If it requires only kids to go to pre-school by 4 who have not attained certain levels of ability in order to prep them for Kindergarten..well, then I will see.

I objected to the idea that all kids needed govt funded help. A lot of us are quite fine educating our kids at the pre-school level in "our way", thank you.

But, it is true there are some kids who show up to kindergarten never having had a book read to them, an adult who spoke to them of colors and shapes, a coloring book, or rules of behavior in groups taught to them.

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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Apr 21, 2007 at 8:30 am

The election was in June of 2006, not November, which is a minor point. More relevant is the fact that much of the opposition (I voted no as well) was of the "pre-school YES, special income tax hike NO" variety.

The initiative funded pre-school through a special income tax hike on high-income families. My opposition was not to broadening pre-school opportunties but to creating yet another specially-funded program rather than having pre-school debated and funded as part of the overall state budget funding process.

Most of the editorial opposition at the time was not about pre-school but about the initiative's funding approach.

So I have no problem looking at another approach that puts pre-school within the regular funding process.

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Posted by Tired of push-push-push
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2007 at 12:36 pm

The recent news about daycare/preschool is confusing: It's good/it's bad for children. It socializes them/it makes them aggressive. Personally, I think kids have become overprogrammed, overstimulated, over-intellectualized, and over-academed in age-inappropriate ways. Just because you can get them to "perform" at younger ages doesn't mean they are psychosocially ready for the pressures we throw at them at ever-younger ages.

I'm not against preschool, but school/school-like programs are run by the clock, and there seems to be at attitude/expectation that we should be pouring more and more into our children's heads, as if there's infinite capacity to take it all in. Kids may be able to take it all in, but that doesn't mean they have time to process it and to explore/experience the world in HEALTHY ways.

Why are we hearing about so many kids who excel, only to be burnt out by thge time they're ready for college? Why are we hearing about so many kids with behavior/inattention problems at school? Why are we medicating so many kids so they will be able to sit still, stay quiet, and not disrupt class? Why are more and more kids unable to read social cues and body language on the playground?

I don't have the answers. We can blame TV, food additives, junk food, the environment, poor parenting, etc. But maybe we should take a strong look at trying to push kids too fast too soon. Giving them age-appropriate enrichment (language-rich, hands-on, experiential opportunities in a relaxed, unrushed, unforced environment) could do a lot for school readiness.

Let's turn back the clock and take the academics out of kindergarten. If you provide learning opportunities (i.e., learn about the world in natural, exploratory ways without "teaching"), the kids at age 6-7-8 will learn to read and do math in record time because they've got the foundation of life experiences along with biologic developmental readiness. You can cram more in faster when their brains are ready for intellectual analysis required of academics.

As for this "Kindergarten Readiness Act"--I'd say it's just another way to push-push-push our kids too early and dehumanize them. Public schools run more by the clock and by "covering" the curriculum than private preschool/daycare programs. The next thing you'll know, we'll have STAR testing for 4-year olds.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2007 at 12:59 pm

I think it is useful for a child to have been in social settings, away from family members, before kindergarten. I think that they do better in kindergarten if they can recognise the fact that now is the time to play, now is the time to listen, now is the time to work at the table on a project and now is the time to eat, or whatever. It is probably useful if they can identify colors, know the difference between letters and numbers and perhaps identify their written name or simple shapes. However, this is probably all they do need to know. Some will learn this from church sunday schools, or moms and toddlers groups. Some will learn it from interaction with older siblings, cousins or other family members and friends.

To say that every child should go to preschool is not really necessary. For the majority of children who do not go to organised preschool, they will probably get what they need elsewhere. But, there are some children who do start kindergarten with a big disadvantage because they do not have the skills mentioned in my first paragraph. These kids, be they few in number or not, are not ready for kindergarten and not only do they take a long time to integrate into a classroom routine, they make it very difficult for their teachers and classmates to establish this routine as there is usually a lot of crying, clinging to parents, and refusals to join in the class activity. For this reason, I would prefer to see children being tested for kindergarten readiness and something like a young 5s program being established for them which is recommended for them by teachers (not parents) and is offered to all children regardless of when their birthdays are if they need it.

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Posted by Michelle Yee
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 21, 2007 at 7:51 pm

The funding was a major issue to be sure. It wasn't fair to expect high income families and individuals to pay for preschool for all. And yes, the measure was voted on in June, forgive my mommy-memory.

The problem with this measure is that it institutionalizes pre-K. Private pre-K programs (including play based, developmental preschools) will have to compete with free public pre-K, and for those kids who do go public, the content and instruction will be standardized. If the state of public kindergarten is a good example, there won't be enough play. Children absolutely need play - it's not negotiable or a luxury - it is a developmental need.

The reason for this measure is to set children on the state content standards and assessments track at age 4. Unfortunately, the state content standards are not always developmentally appropriate. If expecting all 2nd graders to master the same skills at the same time is inappropriate, think of the developmental span of all the 4 year olds in the state.

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Posted by k
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 21, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Michelle, thanks for bringing this to our attention. I agree that while the general idea of pre-school can be nice, this hardly means it should be mandated for all with a government bureaucracy and public funding - this would have to be a massive program some people don't even want to have their kids join.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2007 at 8:52 am

My desire for "something" has more to do with giving "something" to kids who have nothing in their homes but a TV. No books, few to no toys, minimal adult interaction. And they end up in kindergarten with kids who have been read to and played with from birth.

The problem is that kids who come from these "intellectually" impoverished environments and go to a good pre-k lose all the benefits by 4th grade if their elementary school/family environment does not support their growth.

So, it is more of a problem than just offering pre-k to those with nothing.

On the other hand, I read about 10 years ago the results of a study conducted in the East Coast, where thousands of kids from single parent homes were randomly selected for full-time "qualified" daycare from 6 months old, and were in this daycare until kindergarten. In High School, they tested much brighter, did much better in all areas, and were more likely to go to college than their peers who were not selected.

I am NOT advocating government funded full-time day care for everyone here! But, it raises interesting questions about the value of early and frequent stimulation and its effect on kids' futures. A policy discussion around this would be fun.

I will see if I can find the 2 reports ( one of losing the ground gained by one year of pre-k, and the other of keeping the ground gained from full-time and early) online and post it.

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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 22, 2007 at 1:39 pm

Can anyone tell me how this is to be funded? Where are the school systems going to house these preschoolers? Where will school systems get the teachers? What will be their qualifications? There is an alarming shortage of teachers for K-8 as it is. This all seems very nice and magnanimous on paper - but practically speaking, where is the money, where is the personnel? More portable classrooms? Specially designed play areas? At what point does the 'state' have to draw the line as to what is 'its business"? - do parents have to do it for them? When can children just be children? Is 'society' pushing the chlidren too fast? I'm
just asking.

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Posted by Tired of push-push-push
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2007 at 10:13 pm

This bill is partly all new, and partly revises existing laws such as class size reduction. You can read it here:

Web Link

Under the present law, kindergarten is not compulsory, and education is compulsory at age 6. The K Readiness Act It will make kindergarten compulsory if a child is age 5 by Sept 1, starting in 2011. The theory is that if you catch kids early enough, you can offer interventions while young minds are still able to benefit, and prevent retention, special ed, or other solutions when kids are not succeeding.

Some funding will come from existing federal/state preschool funding, and funding for facilities will be available. Classes will have 20 prekinders (ages 3-4) with 1 credentialed teacher (or teacher working on credential) and 1 assistant teacher with an A.A. degree. Three hours/day = full time for kids, but for teachers, 6 hours/day (two sessions, one a.m., one p.m.) = full time. (Isn't that more than is required of elementary/secondary teachers? When do they prepare?)

I don't know what working parents would do about getting kids into daycare on all the school holidays & breaks.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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