In the United States, our education system stinks. But parents in “good school districts” tell themselves they are different. The problem with this logic is that it’s precisely those economically advantaged kids who don’t need school.
Let’s take a look at Deerfield, IL, which has been having a public discussion about preschool. About 90% of all Illinois public schools have full-day kindergarten. Deerfield has been an outlier. They had a lottery system, but Superintendent Guy Schumacher said, “We always knew we were turning kids away and it bothered me.”
However Greg Trotter at the Chicago Tribune reports that, “students have continued to perform at a high level without full-day kindergarten.” Because of state law, the cost to residents to provide the program would be high, and the only difference the superintendent sees between kids who went to full-day kindergarten and kids who didn’t is how “they really understand the structure of a class day and were really showing up ready for a full day.”
The politicians of Deerfield, IL are going to raise money for full-day kindergarten because if kids go to full-day kindergarten, then kids know what a full day of school is like.
It sounds to me like the school system keeps expanding to give administrators more power.
Everyone in the whole entire universe does not think kindergarteners need to know what a regular, seven-hour day of school is. Because kids do not need to spend time on math and reading as four-year-olds. And, as Karen Whistler, a kindergarten teacher in Deerfield says, “Kindergarten is the new first grade… we spend so much time on reading and math, but we don’t get to focus as much on their social skills.”
This is just one very specific example of how lousy the reasoning is to go to full-day kindergarten. But I see such examples every day. Tomorrow I could write about how the Chicago Tribune reports that in Illinois, “some rural districts have lower property tax bases and depend mostly on state money. In such districts, adding full-day kindergarten is a meaningful way of getting more state funding per pupil.”
Insane. Right? Kids are the pawns of politicians. The motivation for full-day kindergarten is flawed because it’s so hard to justify unnecessary schooling.
We don’t all live in Deerfield, but we all live in school districts where specious reasoning justifies the treatment the kids receive. So the next time you think your school district is different, remember Deerfield (which received a gold rating from US News & World Report) is no different than your school district. It’s full of tricky, self-serving methods for getting kids to suffer more things to get more money for the district.