More schools making full-day kindergarten happen

This fall, the Washington Legislature compromised on a supplemental state budget that begins catching up to the needs of teachers and children in Washington State.

The budget continues a 10-year phase-in of full-day kindergarten, while giving teachers half a percent salary increase (on top of their annual cost-of-living-adjustment) to make up for pay increases suspended in years past.

Points to legislators for avoiding a potentially ugly “teachers vs. kids” scenario. Our teachers deserve more than that, and so do our kids. But 10 years is still too long time to wait for the proven benefits of full-day-kindergarten.

It looks like the Tacoma and Gig Harbor school districts feel the same way. They’ve chosen not to wait on the state, and instead to use a combination of state money and dollars diverted from other programs to pay for all-day kindergarten for every child.

According to the News Tribune:

Educators across the nation are hunting for and finding money to pay for as many full-day kindergarten classes as they can. They’re pinning dollars on the idea – and research – that full-day kindergarten might help erase the achievement gap between upper- and middle-class white students and their counterparts of color or poverty or both. They also say that a full-day start to school benefits kids of all races and economic situations.

Despite evidence that full-day kindergarten helps to enable the success of our children and families and enhance the state’s economic vitality, availability of full-day kindergarten in Washington is limited and funding remains inadequate.

All children deserve the best chance to succeed, and a quality education lays the foundation for a thriving society. Here’s hoping next year’s state budget brings “full-day K” to the other 80% of Washington’s kids.

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Posted in Early Learning, Educational Opportunity, K-12 Education


  1. kindergartenwatch says:

    I agree with this post — the state of Washington needs to go further to support early childhood education.

    As a parent whose child lost out on a lottery for full-day kindergarten in the Lake Washington School District, my family is scrambling to find other solutions. I’m faced with telling my son that “Oh sorry, your neighborhood school doesn’t have a slot for you, too bad.” Some of his neighborhood friends lucked out and some didn’t — so much for building a sense of community and kinship. The future of our children shouldn’t depend on chance.

    Even when half-day programs are offered, there are often not enough private resources that offer quality solutions for the remainder of a half-day. On early dismissal days, the afternoon “half day” is less than two hours, barely enough time to get the little ones settled in.

    As shown in the Economic Opportunity Institute, Washington state has a long way to catch up with spending on early childhood education in many states. How will our next generation possibly be able to compete in a global economy if we don’t give them the best start possible?

  2. sarahk says:

    We must stop trading in childhood for budget lines and test scores! Children do not NEED Full Day Kindergarten. They need balance. Play is the work of children. Half Day Kindergarten needs to remain a choice. Studies show Half Day works. Please listen to what the experts have to say – The Alliance for Childhood, Race to Nowhere, The Finland Phenomenon… Take a stand… Protect the children, and preserve the rights of parents. – HalfDayKindergarten.Org

    • John Burbank says:

      Sarah, thanks for your comments. I would agree with you, if Washington (or the United States) had a good universal child care system, extensive family leave insurance and a robust middle class with few poorer and richer people. Barring that, full-day kindergarten is needed and appropriate, and it should involve play along the model of High Scope.

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