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Can School Districts Eliminate Kindergarten? (page 2)

Can School Districts Eliminate Kindergarten?

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Updated on Jun 1, 2009

And there’s yet another compelling argument for kindergarten (and prekindergarten) for all. Initiatives in early education are seen by some experts as more than just a school readiness strategy and a way to close the achievement gap; some believe we should look at early education as an economic development strategy. The National Conference of State Legislatures recently released a summary brief highlighting the economic advantages of early childhood education. The brief features reports from Art Rolnick, senior vice president and director of research at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, James Heckman, Nobel Prize winner in economics from the University of Chicago, and the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, all of which characterize the economics of investing in early education.

Still, there are tough decisions to make at the district level. “It’s no small feat to cut $25 million,” Blek says. “It’s going to be nasty. If a district has to cut from kindergarten, my recommendation would be to cut back on the academics. We don’t need workbooks in kindergarten, for example. We can save a whole lot of money if we don’t buy workbooks.”

Daniel agrees. “Kindergarten has been put in a real squeeze in academic kinds of development—wanting kindergarten to be structured in terms of academics,” Daniel says. “I think that in recessionary times, the bottom line is something that has everybody’s attention. But still, you can’t make decisions without considering the hard evidence.”

Daniel urges policymakers to consider what we know about young children and what makes for a successful school career. “All the research and science is something that we supposedly value,” Daniel says. “Society needs informed, alert, caring, and responsive people. And that doesn’t start at high school. It starts in the early childhood years.”

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