"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Kirkwood School District to Discuss "Free" All Day Kindergarten. Be Careful what you Wish for.

Kirkwood School District will be debating if it should provide "free" all day kindergarten. Astute folks realize this won't be "free", it will be coming out of the budget. While parents will not have to pay the $3,600 cost out of their own pockets, the taxpayers now will have that privilege.

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) published what it envisions for an optimum Pre-K program that aligns itself with Pre-K RTTT mandates. Examining the Pre-K Race to the Top mandates Missouri recently signed onto, kindergarten parents might want to re-think their delight about not having to pay for Pre-K programs for their human capital. Constitutionally minded taxpayers might question why the State School Board and the Governor agreed to sign onto mandates that once again, take away local/state control and will cost the taxpayers even more money.

Here is the Executive Summary on the Pre-K RTTT program. Most (if any) of the $60,000,000 Missouri just received for funding will not come to Kirkwood, that funding is reserved for "low performing schools". Why be concerned, then, about these mandates when Kirkwood won't receive any of this funding to offset the additional cost necessary in the KSD district?

KSD is under the same mandates for the schools that received the money even though KSD will receive no financial assistance. Grades 1-12 are also under RTTT like mandates (we are under Common Core mandates even though we received no RTTT money for grades 1-12) and we have very little local/state control over students' education. When those Common Core standards take effect in 2014, your state/school will not be able to set their own standards or assessments. Welcome to the world of nationalized education.

Why be concerned about these mandates? They come with many strings in terms of teacher/administrator staffing, unfunded mandates and what your student learns. However, the idea of your child attending all day kindergarten with someone else paying for it sound pretty enticing, right? Kindergarten is a great concept for many parents, but what will your human capital be learning?

Do you know kindergartners in Charlotte-Mecklenberg School District took 52 tests...and why?

This is just one of the districts in states across the country -- with the support of the Obama administration-- that are implementing new evaluation systems that link teachers’ pay to test scores.

Linking teachers' pay to test scores is one hallmark of Pre-K RTTT. This will occur in KSD as well...even though we won't receive any funding from Pre-K RTTT! If you think your child's kindergarten will consist of creative playtime, learning ABC's, and learning social skills...it might. But it very well most likely also consist of enormous testing to determine if the school is in compliance of federal mandates.

Is that why you send your kindergartner to school, to test them so the school can determine the worthiness of a teacher's teaching skill? Do you believe a kindergartner can be tested effectively at 5 years old? Your child is also being tracked in a P-20 pipeline, preschool to age 20 and into the workforce to determine if his/her skills are sufficient for the workforce.

To establish a solid baseline, your kindergartner better get off to a fast start. No pressure there, right? Should we be targeting kindergartners for the workforce? For more information on how education really works today and why it is not about your child, but rather the system, read this article from democraticunderground.com. This is a truly a bipartisan issue: both Democrats and Republicans are selling you and your children for the future workforce and a nationalized system of education.

Forgive me if I am not delighted Kirkwood District is considering having the taxpayers foot the bill for kindergartners and this vision. Taken from a tweet on Twitter:

"School is not about creativity. School is about compliance" - So sad but true. Ending NCLB & RTTT would help a lot.

(For more information on this vision and its connections that have less to do with education, but more for the system, read utahrepublic.org where the above chart was obtained.)


  1. In response to this comment, I have to disagree with the responder above. First of all, yes, a child can be tested effectively evaluated at 5 years of age. When children are tested for special education services or for gifted programs, both intellectual tests and achievement tests are given at this age level. Further, I hope that this testing will happen. I would want to know where my child is ranked in comparison to other children across the nation. This establishes baseline data that will enable me to know how I may be help my child both at school and at home. I want my child to leave the nest someday and be a productive member of society. Further, when looking at the MAP scores for Kirkwood, the schools that had higher test scores all have full-day kindergarten.

    In addition, there is already a system in which teachers are evaluated within each school district. Looking at evaluation data and how their students scored is already a part of it. Teachers that have a large group of students that do poorly on a test should be under the microscope. This shows that the teacher is not being effective and needs to reteach some material in a new way in order for the students to learn.

    When it comes to full day kindergarten there are many, many studies out there that show the benefits of it. Some of these benefits are school readiness, higher academic achievement, reduction in retention, better literacy and language development, and social and emotional growth. These benefits lead to a foundation that will help the children long-term. Check out the site: http://www.wested.org/online_pubs/po-05-01.pdf

    Early intervention services are necessary in order to help children achieve. It closes the gap between children from different SES backgrounds. It allows children with special needs to have a more successful outcome in life. If an increase in taxes led to children receiving more education, I am all for it!

  2. Thank you for writing with your opinion, Anonymous. Much of what you write makes sense, however, I would ask yourself why we want to test kindergarteners EXTENSIVELY. Look at this site that was one of the first to examine the common core standards, an integral part of the PreK RTTT mandates:


    Again, this testing and exposure to earlier education really has NOTHING to do with children! It is to evaluate teachers, track children and allow the nationalization of standards.

    To determine how your child compares with others in the nation is an admirable goal, but these comparisons are somewhat misleading:


    I am stunned that parents are excited about their human capital being tracked from birth through the workforce with invasive personal data that has nothing to do with education!

    The Federal Government has had a 190% increase in spending over four decades with flatlined testing results. More taxes is not the answer and receiving more education is not the answer. The TYPE of education received is important as well as the family support that child receives. That's one part of the equation the government hasn't been able to mandate.

    If a child can't/won't learn and the family support won't/doesn't allow a child to learn, the government can't "fix" that with any amount of money. What no one wants to talk about is the inner desire to learn. More testing won't help that and standardization for THE NATION with all the different personalities and learning styles is ludicrous.

    You write: "Teachers that have a large group of students that do poorly on a test should be under the microscope. This shows that the teacher is not being effective and needs to reteach some material in a new way in order for the students to learn."

    Great idea! But with the nationalization of standards and assessments, the teacher will not have the time to reteach or revise the material. Talk to teachers in the midst of this standard and assessment upheaval. They are teaching to the test. They can't teach the children. With more mandates comes less creativity and less local/state control.

    This is what kindergarten will be, as well as the other grades. Another site to access:

    www.truthinamericaneducation.com That's a site started by professionals, teachers, and parents to tell folks the FACTS about common core standards, RTTT and longitudinal data system. They are not paid lobbyists.

    If we are making our children into workers for the system, then so be it. If you think early kindergarten is for the children, that's your decision. But read these sites with an open mind. This is a huge money maker and Kirkwood School District will not be able to run its kindergarten in the way IT sees fit. It can't. It's under the same mandates as every other school for every other child and for every other teacher.

  3. What is the problem that new testing is going to solve when it comes to preschoolers. Who decides what is the "trajectory" that a preschooler should be on by comparison to others in the nation? At this rate, why not start testing in-vitro?

    There is no evidence that these new testing measures will have the benefits on learning of young children that Anonymous indicates. In fact, the entire notion is highly controversial among those most familiar with child development. Parents should be fully aware of what these new and increased standardized testing initiatives mean. After over 10 years of NCLB failure and conversion of schools into test prep and testing centers, why would we want more expensive testing? I would hope that parents would be focusing on learning versus more high stakes assessment.

  4. I wonder if, like me, the first commenter is from an earlier time.. A time when standardized tests were used solely for general comparisons and not considered a big deal by anyone..

    Personally I appalled the the Government is compiling dossiers on students and parents, often without their knowledge, without Congressional approval, in direct violation of the laws and Constitution of the United States..

    If enough noise is made I don't believe the House would be willing to put a stop to it in a way no president would ever forget.. With the current make up of the Senate, it would be a waste of time.

  5. Stlgretchen is behind the times. There is much evidence that having children attend full day kindergarten sets the foundation for successful academic achievement later in a child's school career. Here is one website at which a study can be found:http://www.wested.org/online_pubs/po-05-01.pdf

    Or, just goole it and see what other studies you might want to read.

    Missouri Education Watchdog is simply a Tea Party slant on education and does a disservice to our children.

  6. Anonymous writes: "Missouri Education Watchdog is simply a Tea Party slant on education and does a disservice to our children."

    Au contrarie Anonymous. You may call my writing what you will, but if you do your homework, you will find our stance here on MEW about the common core standards and excessive testing the same as Susan Ohanian,


    or Parents Across Seattle,


    or Save Our Schools,


    none of which could EVER be classified as having a teaparty slant. What we all have in common is a slant toward local communities and school districts having a voice in its childrens' education. You would think we would have a voice since we pay for it, right? WRONG!

    Do your homework. Check out these groups. Read the links I provided. Tell me where I am wrong on this issue without chalking it up to a "teaparty" slant. It's not. If it's a slant, it's against elitists making decisions for our children.

    I give it back to you. The private corporations making educational decisions for our children are the ones doing the disservice. And guess what? There's no accountability with these corporations that our tax dollars are funding.

    Call me what you will, but that's not how our government is supposed to work. I keep telling folks, both sides have sold children down the river. But if you want to think it's a tea party issue, you go right ahead. Just drop a line to the folks listed above (and on the undergrounddemocrat link I provided) and see what they think about your theory.

    And for every pro piece on early kindergarten are anti pieces on kindergarten:


    I'm just telling you all what the plan for kindergarten is these days. It's to track your kids to make them ready for the workplace. It's in the government documents. Read them.

  7. (Grr my pc froze after a well composed response so here is my not so great second attempt)

    I am not 100% against standardized testing, but against its use for so many decisions. The targeting children for the workforce originates in Prussia of which most of our educational system is modeled. Then came along standardized and iq testing to prove racial and class inferiority. Then around the Progressive Era, a push for vocational ed. Now we have "pathways" and "individualized, differentiated instruction" which originate from the idea of assessing students and using a test to determine their coursework and path in life. I question assessments esp. with younger children because how much of the "pathways", marginalizing students based on an exam (preventing some from obtaining excellence and a decent education) is institutionalized and thus still exists, hidden in plain sight? Is this "fair" education? And if you've studied child development, are all 5 year olds at the same "spot" of performance, at the same time? It is like saying a child that cannot crawl at 8 months is stupid- yet every baby progresses differently.

  8. ...grumpyelder, now I recall in my original-my-pc-froze- post I had mentioned the longitudinal data tracking system and how it is wrong because parents generally don't know how much is being tracked w/out their consent. And do they really know what is weighing on an assessment score in kinder?
    Add the new test to assess ALL students for mental illnesses (google "teenscreen") where students get food coupons and the like for taking the assessment and... well, I feel ill just thinking about it. http://3rseduc.blogspot.com

  9. One thing is quite clear to parents, community members, and taxpayers is that ideology is not a divider on education reform. There is a united opposition and resistance to increased standardized testing initiatives under RT3 starting in preschool and widespread agreement that high stakes assessment has not achieved its promises with no return on investment. There is equal opposition to collecting data from preschool to the first year of college.

    Let us be honest about full day kindergarten in this economy. Is funding guaranteed? Some districts have had to charge fees for a full day. Will districts have difficulty in maintaining a long day when RT3 runs out. For those who are unemployed and otherwise struggling, where will they find the $ to pay for the full day?

    The disservice to children is the failure to have an open and honest discussion on new initiatives. Here's some honesty on the topic:

  10. Anonymous must be getting paid by KSD to counter the "TeaParty" slant and further money grubbing of the public education industry. You couldn't be farther from the truth when you declared that MEW does a disservice to children. It is the public educational system, government departments of education, teacher's unions, and greedy politicians that are doing the disservice to children. They are doing everything in their power to wrest parental rights and control of our children away from freedom loving, engaged parents all across this nation. There is no credible evidence that there is a correlation between all day kindergarten and later academic achievement. Only hyperbole and speculation. But that is what the left leaning socialists always fall back on.

    Sadly enough, there will be a number of people who will only be too happy to push their offspring off to government funded "all-day" daycare, because we have been programmed to believe that "education" is an entitlement, in the US. Too bad for the upcoming generation, who will be indoctrinated in the government controlled system, with national standards and curriculums, that they will not grow up knowing that the most effective education comes from home and not our comrades in government schools.

  11. 3rseduc / handsinthesoil My grandson just brought home a polite letter telling me how great it would be if I monitored his his class work via pearsonsuccess. Thanks to Sandra(abv, and Gretchen our hostess here, the Pearson name got my attention. I did a little checking.. everything that used to be in a teachers grade book is now on Pearson's Computers.

    It gives new meaning to the dreaded "Permanent Record"

    Logging in would allow Pearson to put whatever cookies they want on a parents computer..Google uses cookies for advertising that can monitor every word you type.

    I'm not suggesting OUR government would use similar cookies to covertly harvest data-- It would be illegal

  12. @Grumpyelder.

    National standards and assessments are illegal as well. That pesky little problem with the law doesn't seem to be stopping the DOE.

    Just saying...

  13. Not looking for it, but kindergarten articles are popping up in my view. From this one, I learned that:
    1) Finland delays formal reading instruction until children reach age 7, but the country consistently comes out at the top of international assessments. Japan’s infamously rigorous schools remain play-based until about second grade. Recently, China has made sweeping reforms to break away from rote learning.
    2)Two years ago, the Maryland-based Alliance for Childhood published its much lauded report “Crisis in the Kindergarten.” Researchers for the nonprofit found that children in all-day kindergartens spend four to six times as much time studying reading and math as in free play. As a result, the Alliance argued, academic pressures were instilling in children a sense of failure, a long-term aversion to school, and contributing to a rise in aggression and other behavioral problems.


  14. "As a result, the Alliance argued, academic pressures were instilling in children a sense of failure, a long-term aversion to school, and contributing to a rise in aggression and other behavioral problems." perfect..the aversion to school can be blamed on teachers, behavioral issues can be controlled by pharmaceuticals ($ for pharma corporations), the childrens' psyche managed, and a sense of failure can help perpetuate the achievement gap, encouraging further government intrusion in schools...sounds like a recipe for success as far as the elitists in power see it. Sigh.

  15. All the studies in the world pointing to full-day kindergarten being a definitive academic advantage do not answer the question why full-day kindergarten needs to be free for everybody. I can’t imagine any studies show students who skip breakfast and/or lunch perform just as well or better than kids who eat those meals, yet free breakfast and lunch are offered only to students whose families are below a certain income level. Why can’t KSD offer free or reduced tuition to families below a certain income level? Currently 180 out of 367 kindergarten families afford the full-day tuition. Of those remaining 187 families, how many truly cannot afford $10/day for a calendar year for their kindergartener to attend full-day?

    Also, has KSD looked at the past few decades of students’ permanent records to see if there is a statistically compelling advantage to full-day kindergarten for the KSD demographic? Studies are all well and good, but the results aren’t necessarily universally applicable. A medical study that uses only male participants may not yield results that apply to women. An educational study that has half the participants living below the poverty line may not apply to Kirkwood where the average family income is over $67,000.00 (that’s over twice the poverty level for a family of 8). We’ve got the date – we’ve certainly got the data! – now let’s analyze it. If KSD hasn’t the time, several local colleges have education departments. Surely one of them would take this on as a research project.

    If KSD goes through with free for all full-day kindergarten, how will they fund it? If voters don’t approve a tax increase, where will the budget cuts come from? Will we have larger class sizes? Is it better for a student to be in a full-day kindergarten class of 25 students or a half-day kindergarten class of 15? Will more PE teachers be dropped? Will more art/music teachers and media specialists be shifted to part-time or eliminated all together? KSD says this initiative will cost $850,000 per year. That’s 20 teaching positions at the entry-level pay scale or 12 teaching positions at the average salary pay scale. Are the administrators in the district – superintendent, asst. superintendents, principals – willing to take a pay-cut to help make this happen, or do they expect only the taxpayers to sacrifice for the well-being of the students?

  16. There are more important things at stake here than test scores, budget lines, and our convenience. The world needs creative thinkers. Children need balance, unstructured time and free play. Recent reports (cited at HalfDayKindergarten.org ) show the importance of balance. Look abroad at what is working... Other countries - (families in Finland, for example) - spend far less time and money and yet continue to outperform us at an alarming rate. However, instead of following paths that work, we are heading toward tragedy. We are trading our children/s success and happiness in life in for test scores, budget lines, and our convenience. Please... read more... Half Day needs to remain a choice! Full day needs to be redefined... We should not have five year olds in 1st grade curriculums. Just because we can push... does not mean we should! Please protect the children, and preserve the rights of parents... HalfDayKindergarten.org


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