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Board member misses vital data

The Sept. 15 edition of the Mirror featured an article titled “Substitute teacher vote fails.”

It states that Hollidaysburg School Board member Lois Kaneshiki cast the singular no vote for creating an entry-level, long-term substitute teaching position in order to keep kindergarten class enrollments manageable.

She equated kindergarten teachers with babysitters, further stating that she has been in kindergarten classrooms and added, “My daughter didn’t go to kindergarten. She taught herself to read.”

She continued, “Data I’ve seen does not support putting money into younger grades.”

Could she be right that getting rid of one of the four kindergarten classrooms, thereby increasing the student enrollment in the remaining three classes, would be better for our kindergartners than providing more individual care and academic instruction time at this important juncture in their early educations?

Is kindergarten a waste of the taxpayers’ dollars? Are kindergarten teachers just babysitters? Is studying early childhood education thus a waste of time and money invested in a four year degree?

The importance of Academic Skills for PreK-3rd by Greg J. Duncan, University of California, is a report to the Foundation for Child Development.

It includes various studies of early childhood education and recommendations for improvements, some of which follow:

A report from the National Research Council’s Committee on Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children, argues for the acquisition of certain pre-literacy skills.

It also urged that children be provided with early environments that promote language and literacy growth.

Kindergarten teachers most frequently mention the difficulty children have following directions, working independently and in groups and lack of expected academic skills upon entry to kindergarten. (Rimm-Kaufman, Pianta, & Cox, 2000.)

A report from the National Research Council and Institute on Medicine concludes that elements of early childhood education intervention programs that enhance social and emotional development are just as important as components that enhance linguistic and cognitive competence in children.

Elementary school reading and mathematics achievement measures were related to kindergarten measures of reading and math achievement (Duncan et al., 2007).

These studies show the importance of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten to prepare children adequately for the academics and behavioral skills of elementary school and beyond.

Not all parents have the ability or resources to provide their children with a pre-school education, whether it be at the child’s home or at a brick and mortar pre-school site.

So countless preparations for a legitimate and successful on-going education are often first planted in the fertile soil of kindergarten.

It sets a stage for a successful education and a productive life.

Louis Anthony Mollica

Hollidaysburg

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