Last month, five state Representatives introduced a bill that would require all Rhode Island school districts to offer full-day kindergarten instruction, and on Feb. 21, Sen. Hanna Gallo (D-Cranston) proposed legislation that would help up to four districts cover part of the costs of expanding their current half-day kidergarten programs.
The had 213 children in half-day kindergarten classes during the 2010-11 school year, with 21 attending full-day classes, according to statistics published by RI Kids Count.
[The RI KIds Count report on full-day kindergarten is attached to this article.]
Supporters of the full-day K bill (House 2012-7127) argue that statistics prove a correlation between full-day kindergarten classes and future success in school, while opponents of the bill point to the legislation as another unfunded mandate being imposed by the state on local school districts.
Gallo's bill would provide state funding during the 2013-14 school year to a handful of districts with the intent of defraying the costs of desks, books, and facility upgrades, according to a General Assembly press release.
According to the statement, Gallo's legislation is co-sponsored by Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), and Sens. Louis P. DiPalma (D-dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton), Frank A. DeVall Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence) and Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland) and 24 other members of the Senate.
State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has also announced support for Gallo's bill.
“Learning in the early years is the foundation that supports a lifetime of learning, so I strongly support initiatives that expand educational opportunities for our youngest learners," Gist stated in the press release. "The ‘Full-Day Kindergarten Accessibility Act’ provides incentives that will encourage more districts to offer a full school day of kindergarten instruction."
What do you think — should all Rhode Island school districts be required to offer full-day kindergarten classes? Or should each system decide what's best for its students? Do you think the state should "put its money where its mouth is" and fund the expansion of kindergarten programs?
Vote in our poll, and add your comments below.