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Kaneshiki must remember her mission

The recent news article about the Hollidaysburg Area School District substitute teacher vote failing concerned me for several reasons.

As a retired Altoona teacher/elementary school counselor and a taxpayer in Hollidaysburg, I was disappointed by the comments made by board member Lois Kaneshiki.

My first concern has to do with Kaneshiki equating kindergarten teachers with babysitters. Regardless of her decision to vote against the superintendent’s recommendation, this comment was disrespectful, inappropriate and inaccurate.

Members of the board of school directors serve an important role in a community as they collaborate and work together to oversee the education of all students in the community they serve.

Referring to a college educated, certificated professional as a babysitter does not create an atmosphere of collaboration and support but does dishonor the profession of teaching.

Kaneshiki’s reference to her daughter’s teaching herself to read without kindergarten also alarms me.

Whether or not her daughter went to kindergarten is not the issue in this situation, nor is it an appropriate gauge to use in determining what is best for all children. Although her daughter was able to teach herself to read without the help of a teacher, many 5- and 6-year-olds cannot.

They do require the help of a certificated professional who has been trained on the techniques and strategies deemed most effective in helping these young children acquire the skills outlined in the curriculum and considered necessary for continued school success.

What saddens me the most about Kaneshiki’s comments is her lack of appreciation and understanding of the importance of early childhood education and the valuable role that these teachers play in the education of all students.

As an elementary school counselor who worked closely with kindergarten teachers and students, this first year of formal schooling is important for many reasons.

Not only is it where children begin to acquire basic academic skills, social skills, conflict resolution skills, etc., kindergarten is often where schools are able to identify children in need of specialized services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy or special education.

Kindergarten is a crucial year for building the foundation for continued academic success.

I applaud Kaneshiki for choosing to get involved and for serving as a school board member in Hollidaysburg.

My hope is that she remembers that her primary role is to work collaboratively with all involved in the educational process to make the best decisions for all children in the Hollidaysburg Area School District.

Karen Duffett

Hollidaysburg

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