Two school districts don't plan to offer
Original post made
on Dec 26, 2013
The bad news for Menlo Park parents whose children will turn 5 between Sept. 1 and Dec. 2 of next year is that neither the Las Lomitas nor Menlo Park City districts plans to offer the transitional kindergarten programs that all other local districts provide.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Thursday, December 26, 2013, 9:21 AM
Posted by I Thought Education of All Our Children was Our Highest Priority...
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 27, 2013 at 7:51 pm
Per the Almanac article, "Representatives of both districts say that if the law isn't mandatory, they have higher priorities for spending their money." Exactly what ARE the priorities that are more important than addressing the needs of the youngest, most vulnerable children in the MPCSD? Did the Board determine their priorities by examining the research on the effects of early intervention for children? It is unconscionable that one of the wealthiest districts in the state, supported by a 3.6 million dollar donation from the Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation in June 2013, has decided to not do everything it can to prepare ALL students for kindergarten. In the long-term, the decision to not provide Transitional Kindergarten will negatively impact our children and will increase District costs to meet the students' needs from kindergarten through 8th grade.
Apparently, it is not a high priority of Ghysels and the Board to ensure that ALL students are mastering the standards in English-Language Arts and Math. Per the Dataquest website, the MPCSD 2013 STAR scores in English-Language Arts (ELA) for "economically disadvantaged" students indicate that:
-94% of 3rd graders, 45% of 5th graders, and 65% of 7th graders scored Basic, Below Basic or Far Below Basic.
"Non-economically disadvantaged" students' ELA scores indicate that:
-17% of 3rd graders, 8% of 5th graders, and 7% of 7th graders scored Basic, Below Basic or Far Below Basic
The MPCSD 2013 STAR scores in Math for "economically disadvantaged" students indicate that:
-73% of 3rd graders, 42% of 5th graders, and 80% of 7th graders scored Basic, Below Basic or Far Below Basic.
"Non-economically disadvantaged" students' Math scores indicate that:
-23% of 3rd graders, 9% of 5th graders, and 15% of 7th graders scored Basic, Below Basic or Far Below Basic.
2013 STAR scores for "economically disadvantaged" students in the Ravenswood School District indicate that:
-In English-Language Arts, 77% of 3rd graders, 58% of 5th graders, and 64% of 7th graders scored Basic, Below Basic or Far Below Basic.
ČIn Math, 47% of 3rd graders, 37% of 5th graders, and 76% of 7th graders scored Basic, Below Basic or Far Below Basic.
Our Stanford-educated Board members need to reflect upon the following 2012 San Jose Mercury News editorial written by Deborah Stipek, Dean: School of Education, Stanford University, 20012011 and Professor of Education, 2011present. Per the Stanford website, Dr. Stipek's scholarship concerns instructional effects on children's achievement motivation and early childhood education. She is particularly concerned about policies and practices that afford children of color and children living in poverty the educational advantages of their more affluent peers. The Board should schedule a Study Session and invite Dr. Stipek to conduct a presentation regarding the research-based evidence related to the benefits of quality early childhood education.
Transitional Kindergarten has Real Value, Don't Give it Up
"Without transitional kindergarten, children will be delayed access to formal education by three months, and 125,000 (in California) will lose a whole year. For a 5-year-old, this is a crucial time for laying the foundation for future learning. Research has shown that experience during the first five years of life have long-term effects on children's brains in ways that affect their learning long into their future. And when children enter school, their skills profoundly affect their ability to take advantage of the curriculum."
The Board should also consider the Center for Public Education's study,
"Pre-Kindergarten: What the Research Shows"
Many educators are discovering that reform efforts in K12 education systems are sometimes too little and too late. By the time some children reach kindergarten, they are already far behind their peers in skills and measures of school readiness. These educational gaps tend to be much more difficult and costly to close as children advance through elementary, middle, and high school. This realization has led many states to try to get it right from the start by expanding their financial investments in pre-kindergarten services, with a goal to better prepare young children for school success. With public schools facing heightened accountability requirements, pre-k has emerged as an important strategy to promote school readiness and close achievement gaps in elementary school and beyond.
Those with the pre-k intervention had a higher IQ at ages twelve and fifteen and stronger achievement scores at age fifteen (Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute 2006). By comparison, non-program children were more likely to require special education or be retained in grade, two major costs for schools.
For the past 4 years, the Board supported District efforts to effectively address the significant achievement gap in the District. Per agreements posted in MPCSD's Agenda Online, from November 2009 through June 2013, the Board approved contracts with the National Equity Project (formerly known as the Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools) to provide coaching for staff to improve educational outcomes for the District's underserved students. The contracts covered a total of 30.5 months at a cost of $238,500. Ghysels and the Board now appear to have lost their zeal for educational equity in the District and have turned their focus to the grand plan for the O'Connor School makeover.
During the past 2 years, Ghysels has repeatedly stated that he is a supporter of early childhood education, and the Board made it clear that they wanted the MPCSD to become a "world class" school district. The decision to not provide Transitional Kindergarten belies Ghysels' proclamations, and it is yet another step in the wrong direction for a Board that wants to preside over a world class district.