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Wanted: a full-day kindergarten slot — do you feel lucky? April 26, 2008

Posted by kindergartenwatch in Kindergarten lotteries.
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Districts in Washington state currently differ in whether and how they provide full-day kindergarten (sometimes known as all-day kindergarten).

Of the districts that provide all-day slots, some districts are more likely to create additional classes to address need, with one district even partnering with a nearby church for classroom space, while other districts offer slots on a “space-available” basis.

Some districts that offer “space-available” slots hold lotteries to determine which families get the slots. Some districts describe publicly how their lotteries are run and enable the public to watch, and some don’t.

Although some states provide access to full-day slots for all families, in all fairness, Washington state is not the only state to hold lotteries when space is limited. This blog author, however, finds the lottery system to be less than satisfactory. 

Given the amount of research about the benefits of early childhood education, it’s hard to imagine leaving a child’s future to chance. We all pay taxes, so why should one family benefit more than another?

For the districts that don’t openly describe how their lotteries are held, this blog author has a few tongue-in-cheek suggestions that could take the process up a notch.

Tongue-in Cheek Alternatives for a Lottery System:
(
Please take these suggestions with a grain of salt and sarcasm — they are not meant for real, although some might actually raise a a few funds. )

School Carnivals

  • Place full-day slots in soda bottles and play ring toss.
  • Just ducky! Pick up the plastic duck with the lucky number, or perhaps place your lucky duck in a “duck dash” race.
  • Have parents “go fish” for lottery slots with child-size fishing rods.
  • Ski ball — get three ball into the center hole and you’re in.
  • Pin the tail on the full-day kindergarten slot.

Other Functions

  • Auctions! Although most parents pay for all-day kindergarten, there’s a large differential between costs for public kindergarten and most private schools, so parents might pony up some of the difference. Don’t forget your checkbooks.
  • Play tic-tac-toe or board game tournaments.
  • Provide slots as door prizes at PTSA meetings.

Again, these are not real suggestions, but are perhaps food for thought in considering  whether a kindergarten lottery — or any system that involves chance — is the best way to prepare the future leaders for a competitive and global economy.

As of 2007, the Economic Opportunity Institute estimated that only about 40% of kindergartners were in full-day programs. A few more districts will phase in programs for some schools for 2008-2009, but it’s likely that thousands of students will not have access to programs before a complete phase-in. Do you feel lucky?

Early childhood education should be a higher priority April 10, 2008

Posted by kindergartenwatch in Introduction.
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Do you think every child in Washington deserves the best start possible through full-day kindergarten? Are you concerned about the availability and cost of full-day slots, and that state and local leaders aren’t acting fast enough to address the situation? If so, then this site is a place to share your concerns and ideas. 

Perhaps you are a parent who has had to “play the lottery” for a full-day kindergarten slot, and either been left in limbo, or lost out on a slot. As a result, are you scrambling for “Plan B,” because your neighborhood school can’t educate your child?

Do you believe there should be more open communication about kindergarten availability and the lottery system? If so, please keep coming back to read more posts or feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.

This blog is dedicated to seeking more support of early childhood education in Washington State. It will focus somewhat on the Puget Sound region, but will still be relevant to statewide funding issues.

Most of us wouldn’t bet our life savings on a lottery  — why should we take chances on which students have a better chance at succeeding? Our children’s future should not be left to chance.