Kaneshiki deserves credit for her stance

Lois Kaneshiki has taken a classically conservative stance since assuming her position on the Hollidaysburg Area School Board, and I applaud her for it.

She is willing to make unpopular, politically incorrect observations when no one else is willing to do so.

It would be wonderful to see Hollidaysburg public kindergartens lavished with the same sort of well-managed largesse one finds in richer municipalities.

But school systems should never spend beyond their means – even when the benefits in doing so seem compelling.

In the spending proposal underlying the “babysitting” imbroglio, those benefits don’t seem compelling at all. Smaller kindergarten classes do not automatically translate into better outcomes. The competence and commitment of the teacher, the utility of the curriculum and the classroom itself are all equally important.

Kaneshiki is correct that many parents see kindergarten as little more than a child-care service. They are in fact encouraged to do so by the system itself, which excludes parents from the classroom and grants them no influence over any aspect of the curriculum.

Public schools should not be seen as primary providers of social services. Nor should they make any public spending decisions without critical and continual democratic oversight of the sort Kaneshiki so diligently provides.

Kaneshiki may be wrong about the long-term benefits of early-years education.

But she is undeniably right in noting the absence of any real evidence that hiring another kindergarten teacher is the wisest use of very limited resources.

Richard Latker



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