Teaching kindergarten far from baby sitting

Being a retired early childhood educator, I read with great interest the articles about Hollidaysburg Area School Board member Lois Kaneshiki and her comments concerning kindergarten.

Both at a recent board meeting and also when questioned by the Mirror about her comments, Kaneshiki clearly equated teaching kindergarten to baby sitting.

A claim that her “no” vote was done to save money defies reason, especially when it was pointed out to her that it would be more expensive to hire several aides for larger kindergarten classrooms than it would be to hire one new classroom teacher to keep class sizes smaller.

Kaneshiki asserts that she has visited a kindergarten classroom. If so, I wonder when that visit took place. Did the visit last five minutes or several hours?

In my former district in Centre County, board members would visit our school once a year and pop into each classroom for all of two minutes. I don’t believe a person can really understand an educational program unless they spend uninterrupted time, such as an entire morning or whole day in a classroom.

If you haven’t visited a kindergarten class in Hollidaysburg over the last few years, the general public would probably be very surprised to see young children being taught reading, writing, math and science as well as the social skills they need to learn in order to have a successful start in life.

Perhaps it would be helpful if the kindergarten teachers met with the board and had an informational meeting to share what their day entails. It sure doesn’t sound like baby sitting to me.

Kaneshiki’s comments about kindergarten come across as elitist and uninformed. She is not a stranger to controversy, given her previous statement about children in special education, which made headlines a few months ago. This pattern with her is becoming quite disturbing. I believe it is the duty of a school board member to fully educate themselves about educational issues, as well as to show concern and sensitivity toward all the children in her jurisdiction. Clearly this is not happening with her.

In closing, I think Lois Kaneshiki has a lot to learn about early childhood education. I’d be happy to lend her a copy of the bestseller “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” as a start. But would she be open-minded enough to read it?

George Dempsie



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