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Andover joins districts with full-day kindergarten

As schools across New Hampshire transition to the Common Core State Standards, educators are finding their students may be behind the curve right from the beginning: The standards call for 1,080 hours of instruction each year, but half-day kindergarten only provides 540.

“I think the conversation should start to move to, ‘Kindergarten is a grade level,’ ” said Patty Ewen, early childhood education specialist for the New Hampshire Department of Education. “No one’s discussing whether or not the children should be in fifth grade (for a) half-day.”

Voters in Andover agree. At last week’s annual school district meeting, they approved a warrant article to adopt full-day kindergarten by a vote of 113-37, joining about 35 percent of the state’s school districts.

“We’re just absolutely thrilled that the town supported this; I think we’re still flying high from last week,” said Jane Slayton, principal at Andover Elementary/Middle School.

The school first tried to implement full-day kindergarten about five years ago, when the size of the incoming class would have made both half-day classes very small, but the measure didn’t move forward at that time. Last fall, Slayton and a small committee formed to push the initiative forward again, a move prompted in part by the Common Core, a new framework of more rigorous educational standards adopted by most states. The committee contacted local preschools and sought community support for the program. This time around, both the school board and voters approved it.

The Common Core will bring with it new tests that will begin in 2015 to replace the New England Common Assessment Program. The standards expect a deeper understanding of math topics and a greater ability to analyze and understand informational and fictional texts. The foundation for the standards begins in kindergarten, and having kids in the classroom all day gives teachers more time to prepare them for what’s ahead.

“We felt like we were going to be playing catch-up in first grade, and you never really do catch up,” Slayton said.

In 2010, New Hampshire districts had to begin offering half-day kindergarten programs, but enrollment isn’t mandatory. In just the past three years, the number of schools offering full-day kindergarten has increased by 35 percent, Ewen said.

In some communities, expanding the program may be too costly.

“You can’t feel bad about what you can’t afford,” Ewen said. Many districts have to make tough decisions about discretionary programs to keep taxpayers happy. “Anything that’s not a mandate does become negotiable.”

In Andover, which has 28 kindergartners this year, the school board asked voters for an additional $64,428, the cost of one new teacher. The school will find other ways to absorb additional costs that will come from new materials, classroom furniture and other supplies, Slayton said. The town’s budget committee did not recommend passing the article for cost reasons.

“We just thought that with the economy the way it was that they should have put it off another year,” said Jim Delaney, a committee member.

Kindergarten teacher Laura Witt is happy with the town’s decision. She previously taught full-day kindergarten in Florida, and said with a half day, the students are rushed through lessons. With a full day, they’ll have more time for each lesson and won’t have to transition as frequently. Under the Common Core, students will be expected to distinguish meaning among certain verbs, analyze and compare shapes and solve simple word problems, in addition to basics like recognizing and writing letters and numbers.

“I think it’s better for them,” Witt said. “The half-day program’s really hurried. We’re bouncing around from one subject area to the next and we only have a short amount of time.”

The students will have a break in the middle of the day for resting or activities such as story time.

Many kindergartners come straight from all-day preschool programs or go to afternoon care programs. Full-day kindergarten will better prepare students for the rigors of first grade, said Judith Turk, assistant principal and special education director. In addition, spending more time with students will help teachers identify those who need extra help and those who need enrichment earlier.

“It’s really going to serve our early intervention purposes as far as channeling in on challenges early (and) being able to determine from the beginning what extra support they will need,” she said.

Michelle Dudek, a school board member, has one son in kindergarten this year and another who will start next year. A full day of school will enrich kindergartners’ educational experience and allow them to dip into other topics such as science and social studies, she said. As a parent and school board member, she was fully supportive of the initiative.

“I think that early education in general is vital to lasting student success all through their career,” she said.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or or on Twitter @kronayne.)

Legacy Comments35

The bottom line for me Bruce is that you constantly dismiss any data that goes against you agenda. That is especially true in the deficit, taxing more, budgets climate control and a whole array of topics here on this forum. The HS issue and your defense of it is a perfect example. It does not matter how many links are listed for you. You still goback to the ideology that pouring money into failed programs, has merits. Those merits might be ones that should be taught by parents, but you are fine with govt taking over that role at 2 or 3 times the cost. Your defense is always based on bigger govt.

My "agenda"? What exactly is "my agenda"? As for dismissing data that "goes against my agenda": on climate science, I don't "dismiss it". Instead I go to great lengths to explain exactly why inaccurate and distorted claims posted here are inaccurate and distorted. Quite honestly--there is currently no data on climate change that can dislodge the prevailing understanding that fossil fuel use is changing the climate--and likely faster and in more harmful ways than scientists thought possible even a decade ago. The research data accumulating daily on the subject continues to solidify the theory. You could look it up--if you were truly interested, that is. The fact you even think there is 'another side' to the issue is telling. Over 97% of scientists working in the field worldwide share the consensus view on the theory. It's no different from those who claim there is another side to the evolution 'debate'. There isn't--not in science. The 'other side' is a smokescreen of denial and distortion paid for by the fossil fuels industry. It really is that simple, and illustrates the power of big money lobbies to skew public perceptions via advertising and pseudo-science. On HS, I defended the program's efforts, which are broader than literacy, gave a more nuanced view of the HHS study, and suggested that the study be used to improve HS and early childhood education. There was never even an acknowledgement from you that HS was remotely "well-intentioned", if misguided. Instead, your only response each time to my posts was to repeat, mantra-like, HS is a "failed program". My "defense" is based on a careful look at the facts--not claims regarding "failed programs" or believing the latest breathless release from the deniosphere claiming that "global warming" is a hoax, and here's the "research" that proves it.

I think we all know what your agenda is Bruce based on your posts here. We also know how you put forth your agenda. The idea that you believe that the debate about climate change, is based on if it exists, shows how engrained you are in your political agenda. We all know it exists. The debate was never about that. It was about the extent of it, what contributes to it, and there are many things that contribute it, and false info put out there based on where the money comes from. The fact that you think because I am critisizing HS means that I believe it was not well intentioned, speaks volumes about you. That is what you do. You play word games, assume and change the subject.

Bruce, Rabbits aren't commonly known to be rabid, but there have been some cases:

Wow Bruce. You actually believe that President Obama is a moderate? I assume you also think you are also a moderate. When you debate politics, if someone is on the other side, that does not mean they think you are unpatriotic. It might mean they think you are uninformed, and agenda driven by your party. You ahve not shown me that you believe cuts and changes need to be made. You might state it, but you never say where those cuts are needed and changes need to be made. Your idea of change is to get a cash revenue to support those failed programs. As far as taking offense when views are different. What party has decided that using race, class warfare, war against women and attacking religion is a okay?

Thanks for providing more examples of what you consider "critical thinking". This thread has about run its course, I think. I just want to point out again that your question: "What party has decided that using race, class warfare, war against women, and attacking religion is okay?" is illustrative of the degree to which you and the Republican Party have entered an alternative reality. You may justify those actions as right and proper, but the evidence argues against you. Which party used voter suppression tactics in the last election that targeted minority voters? (Race and class) Which party has promoted tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy? (Class war) Which party has led a campaign to restrict access to birth control and abortion services for the poor? (War against women, Class war) Which party condemns and denounces Islam as a religion of hate and terror, and tried to turn the WoT into a holy crusade?

Having an ID required is not voter suppression. If that were the case, needing an ID for anything would be suppression. Tax cuts were for everybody, not just the wealthy. If A Catholic business does not provide benefits for BC, don't work there. Plenty of other places to work A law requiring any religion to change their tenets is wrong.

"Tax cuts were for everybody" - even for unemployed people with no income, whose jobs were shipped to China? What about a family of 4 with one parent working at minimum wage and the other parent disabled or deceased - did they get a multi-million dollar tax cut?

The only solid evidence you have that Obama is other than a moderate is his successful passage of the ACA--something that flaming radical Harry Truman wanted over 60 years ago. Everything else you claim--the deficit, the "failed" stimulus, his alleged "failure" to work with Republicans, is at the very least subject to debate with reams of counter-factual data. For a truly unhinged version of what you claim, read "Sail's" latest brain-droppings down below, including the comments. You don't think I'm a moderate progressive? And what do you really think one who holds the positions you claim to hold is--a "moderate" conservative? When push comes to shove, how different are the views you espouse here daily from those of Prof Gaski and the unhinged Pavlovian chorus that responded to his writings? Why don't you take a whack at it--and not deflect or change the subject? For a refreshing change from the usual pretense of "moderation" the "Carpe Per Diem struggle in vain to keep.

I have plenty of evidence that Obama is not a moderate. I have discussed them many times on this forum as have others. You know that, you read my posts. Your response, The only solid evidence is the passing of the ACA. And now you compare me to Prof Gaski? Nothing in my post had anything to do with birthers. You made a lame attempt to bait me. You changed the subject again Bruce. That is what you do, look in the mirror.

RE: "that does not mean they think you are unpatriotic". I'm sorry, but I think it's fair to say that when posters label a position I might hold (and the facts I use to support that position) "un-American", "subversive", or "communist", I assume they mean what they say.

Only you Bruce could read that study and think that HS was not a failure. HS costs 7 billion a year. Double or triple the cost of regular day care. Did you get that part Bruce, double or triple the cost. HS was based on the idea of improving school readiness. Confidence, trust and security come from parenting, and education to some degree. Obviously HS has failed in those catagories as well. Otherwise the results of this study would show benefits. Nothing new here Bruce. blame the study, just like folks who blame the tests for low scores in education. More money will fix everything right Bruce, even failed programs.

So clue me in here--is this a demonstration of "critical thinking" or of its opposite? Did you arrive at your conclusion ( it's not clear but doesn't it amount to throwing the baby out with the bath-water?) based on your preconceptions of public education, government programs, and the efficacy of early childhood education? Have you relied on more than 1 study, or just this one study of HS effectiveness? These are all factors to consider when one thinks "critically". While HS budget may seem high compared to more typical pre-school programs, one has to consider that HS is much more--providing access to dental care, and a broad array of other services that are HS mandates, including social and emotional support, as well as literacy readiness. Yours, always thinking critically.

I read the Constitution today and wanted you to know that I could not find any of where in the document where government's role is now to provide dental care, social and emotional support or any of the "broad array of social services" which you mention. What next, a bologna sandwich for pre-school children or will we pay manicures? You are "considering" many social engineering policies, etc. Government programs are wasteful, inefficient and it appears that "critical thinking" reveals to you, that the only way to meet any needs is through government confiscating money and redistributing it to those who government feels is more deserving. At this rate, the future will hold that our paychecks will go directly to the government and we will all get a small stipend. I have no issue spending on education but "critical thinking" dictates that we need to be able to measure the impact and that it should not be mired down with administration costs, waste, fraud and abuse and should go directly to areas of need and be monitored for efficiency. Unfortunately, with government, that never happens.

Hey Itsa, did you see anything in the Constitution abou drones, nuclear war, automobiles, planes? Anything about slavery? Anything about the whole half ot the country that didn't exist when it was penned. Anything about electricity or the internet. I do know there is something about separation of Church and State but I guess that is just one part you want to ignore. I don't know how you can get everything you do done and make constant comments and still have time the read the Constitution. Are you one of the Republicans who doesn't believe in science either since it is not in the Constitution?

Isn't it amazing what you can find when you're really looking? And conversely, when you're intentionally not looking to find something, it's not there? There's no mention of machine guns or RPG's or assault rifles in the 2nd Amendment, but JR Hoell sees no limits to 2nd Amendment guarantees on the kinds of guns one can own. Reading the Constitution the way you do, it would likely mean that the only weapon a citizen could own would be a black powder muzzle loader. The Constitution was not meant to be a strait jacket, and the Founders did not intend for "dead hands" to guide the ship of state. Instead, the Constitution, as one of the Founders put it, is "for the living".

In order to think critically, you have to have knowledge. The idea that an elementary student has the knowledge, sophistication, or experience to think critically goes against all common sense. Yet teaching them world views is suppose to remedy that? I think not. Only will confuse them even more in my opinion. We see critical thinking or the lack of it on this forum everyday. The critical thinkers will back up their debates with knowledge in the form of stats, history, etc. The ones who do not think critically will counter the debates based on emotion and politics. Or they will just dismiss the stats and history and name call. They have done that with every topic from education, to entitlement programs. Nothing gets solved, what transpires is gridlock. And a very sad division among us. Racism was bad, and now class warfare is in the same boat.

Thinking critically is a skill that can be taught right along with other skills and knowledge. From the oblique reference in the rest of your post, it's not entirely clear to whom you're referring regarding the quality of the posts and who are those who "back up their debates with knowledge..." vs. those who "counter the debates based on emotion and politics." You must be confused, and not reading the same posts I read. It's very clear to me which side of the political spectrum in most of their posts uses facts and figures to support their positions, and which does not, even rejecting facts out of hand. There's are years worth of posts that one used to be able to look at--and see which ones rely on facts, and which don't. I hope someday they're again available at the click of a mouse. To point out just 2 of several prominent topics that come to mind in which the facts are ignored and or denied by certain posters: climate science, and income and social policies. Certain posters persist in looking at things bass-ackwards--claiming it's "class warfare" to even suggest (for example) that tax policies (not just tax cuts, but things like mortgage deductions for 2nd homes and child-care tax credits) have disproportionally and intentionally benefited the wealthy, while not getting that complaining about and demanding cuts to 'entitlements' and automatic safety net spending (stabilizers) that increased during the recession and contributed (modestly) to the deficit might be class warfare. We live in a nation in which 1 in 4 preschoolers lives in poverty, and in which we spend more on prisons or pet food than we do on pre-school. And yet, to ask those who've seen huge increases in their incomes and wealth (while most everyone else lost ground or broke even over the same time) to pay more in taxes (merely returning rates to those of the Clinton era) and lose some tax loopholes is somehow class warfare? Only in the fun house mirror of conservative politics, where up is down and facts are ignored or distorted beyond recognition.

I am not confused Bruce. I know who posts what. Maybe your the one confused because I did not name them individually. I did not think I had to, and my opinion of who is a critical thinker and who is not, is my opinion. I guess you were hoping I would name them. Critical thinking cannot be taught unless you have knowledge behind it. Otherwise, what results is opinions based on nothing, that eliminate looking at all sides of a topic. That is what happens when folks opine, based on their poliitcal agenda and dismiss any info that just might prove their agenda incorrect, or have consequences that make things worse. An example of that is the education debate. The economic discussions on this forum are based for many on their political agenda, with no honest debate based on the consequences of those policies. Most folks just do not get how the economy works.

I just have to wonder how well you read the posts on here. If you think you regularly look at "all sides of an issue" think again. I've criticized Obama for his drone policy, among other differences. I've stated my opinion in the past that cuts and changes will likely be needed in entitlements. But I also firmly believe we need to increase taxes to pay for badly needed programs, and to help bring down the deficit. This is not a radical position--it's one many, if not most mainstream economists subscribe to. Yet, posters from the right take umbrage whenever their assumptions are questioned, rarely provide more than 1 cherry-picked fact to support their position, more often buttress their views not with facts but another opinion. And they rarely if ever acknowledge errors of fact or opinion (climate science postings from the deniosphere), or even the possibility that their positions could be more nuanced, and not so black and white (Obama, by most any measure a moderate and consensus builder, is routinely demonized as a socialist). Their posts are--despite unconvincing claims to the contrary-- often extremist in outlook. (Sail's recent post on another thread is a striking example). Others are frequently so superficial they constitute "drive-by" postings, and make me wonder if they aren't simply being provocative, and are being paid to troll the "lefty Monitor site". When my assumptions are challenged, I provide facts and figures to support my opinions--no matter what the issue (e.g.:Head Start). I didn't see you come back with any real substance--just restate that one study "proves" Head Start is a failure. Not coincidentally perhaps, the study "proves" what you already believe to be true. HS is a "failed program", and is to be simply ended? There's nothing of value in it? Nothing to be learned or improved upon? Whether the issue is taxes and spending, the budget and the deficit, climate science, or any of several other topics on here--there is plenty of real world data to support moderate and progressive views. Earthling does the same with his posts and is a genuine policy wonk on the issue of the deficit and debt. Yet our posts are routinely dismissed by posters on the right--frequently with name-calling--rarely with any counterfactual information. My patriotism has been called into question numerous times on here by a few who don't like my views. It's easy to do when you can hide behind a screen name, and can't muster the intellectual energy to do some critical thinking.

Many countries feel that children should start school later, like age 7. Instead those countries focus on pre school that stresses social issues, manners and getting along with your fellow pupil. Now we have stats in about Head Start and what a complete failuire that has been. As far as Common Core goes stats are coming in on that also. First stats from Kentucky which was the first school to implement Common Core saw a drop in test results of 30%. This fad will also prove to be a mistake, like all the other fads our school system has tried.

Your post is confusing and contradicts itself. Other countries can "focus on pre-school that stresses social issues, manners and getting along" but Head Start--a preschool program--is a "complete failure"? Based on what cherry-picked facts from what unbiased sources? Not based on the facts from the actual report. I personally would like to see more play in kindergarten and less drill and kill than some--perhaps an increasing number--of academic K programs offer. And I agree that a strong case can be made for starting school--and teaching children to read, at age 7 (which I believe is the case in Finland, for one). But this flies in the face of the "No Child Left Untested" ethos of NCLB and the questionable notion that every child will be on grade level by Grade 3. The issue of quality, affordable childcare for everyone remains, however, as does the issue of how to pay for it. The rich get theirs paid for via a tax credit--one more hidden subsidy of the wealthy by the rest of us. And the very poorest can get Head Start--which DOES have some long-lasting benefits. We can do better. Developmentally appropriate universal all-day K programs are a long overdue start.

The HHS report is not cherry picking Bruce. Read it. No long lasting benefits from Head Start. I stand by my position. Head Start is a complete failure and a very expensive one.

The HHS study does not support your claim that "Head Start is a complete failure and a very expensive one." That study focuses on educational benefits of Head Start and while it finds little or no lasting educational benefit by 3rd grade for most kids in the program, for those most at risk, there was a measurable benefit. It's not clear whether the study filtered out kids with some other pre-K experience--there has been a significant increase in pre-K programs over the past 2 decades. And HS is a nutrition program as well as an educational program. Then there is the whole 'soft skills' component to HS and other pre-K programs that can't be measured very easily--things like confidence, trust, security, the effects of which may show up years later. What is left unsaid in your posts is what is troubling--are you just opposed to HS because you think it doesn't work, or do you extend that to pre-K programs in general? On the latter, there is ample evidence that good pre-K programs are very beneficial. And rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater, those studies and the HHS one can and should be used to improve Head Start--not eliminate it.

Investor´s Business Daily, by John F. Gaski Original Article Posted By: Desert Fox- 3/19/2013 7:59:48 PM Post Reply Many Americans are wondering how their country, a supposed "center-right" nation, reached the point of electing and reelecting the most radical leftist administration in its history. Indeed, a long chain of events giving rise to a confluence of societal changes had to occur for such a fundamental reordering to take place. What exactly were they? How did this happen? Here´s how: First, when the liberal Democrat establishment, manifested by the teachers unions, decisively gained control of public education in the U.S. over four decades ago,........

Thanks for sharing this "opinion" piece from a "birther" whose opinions are based on other opinions, which are based on still other opinions -- in effect a great chain of opinion moored to very little in the way of reality, and which permits Prof. Gaski (as in hot air?) to bloviate freely high into the deniosphere. What's really fascinating (and disturbing) are the comments that follow his piece--about the glories of the Confederacy, the evil conspiratorial plans of John Brown, the European socialists responsible for "Bloody Kansas, and on and on. Oh, to be back in Dixie again, and the Glorious Confederacy--the real America that the Founders intended....or so some would have us believe.

Based on Walk and Itsa' s comments, neither of these 2 "Me"-partiers have any idea what the developmental needs of a five year old are. To suggest that there is no learning in kindergarten, just daycare, is asinine. Our past neglect of the early phases of learning in the granite state might be the impetus for this type of ignorant commentary; it has affected our democratic system.

Kudos to Andover for going to all day kindergarten. The snide comments from WW and Itsa regarding kindergarten reflect their ignorance about the proven benefits of early childhood education and all-day kindergarten, and demonstrate yet again that the less one knows about a subject, the easier it is to maintain a strongly held--but false-- belief. They also bring to mind Lincoln's observation that "it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt."

If you respect Lincoln's opinion, I would think that you might be silent. I can tell you that we don't need government nanny care and certainly don't need government schools indoctrinating minds of mush more than they do right now. Where did you obtain your Masters degree in education? PHD in climate science? Masters in economics? PHD in early childhood education?

Spoken like one who forms his opinions after digesting accurate, thoughtful pieces like this one:

LOL, more personal attacks. John Birch Society has about as much influence on society and politics as does CELDF or any other extreme group on the other side. I don't think that we need to redefine schools per your link, I think we need to encourage free thinking and not indoctrinate in politically correct fashion, how people should think. Now where are your degrees from? Are you going to take Lincoln's advice? PS-I also think that home schooling is great and know people who have two great kids who were home schooled and in college now......they are well adjusted and OH MY GOD, they are conservatives.....ON MY GOD, they slipped through the indoctrination cracks.

Reply to itsa below: The MVSD initiative with IB is intended to encourage critical thinking, or in your words "free thinking"--which is precisely why it's viewed as such a threat from those like yourself. Instead of being welcomed as a bold initiative from a public school district intent on higher achievement, the district gets slammed by the right with a firestorm of distorted and inaccurate information about the program. Yet IB's emphasis on the Inquiry method has long been in place in elite private schools like St. Pauls and Phillips Exeter. On another thread, Sail called for public schools to teach, "American Exceptionalism"--the very antithesis of the "free thinking" and critical thinking you claim here to support, and a revealing response from one who, like yourself, constantly denigrates public education with largely fact-free opinions. Those like you and Sail who've advocated for school vouchers derived from business "tax credits" would find most of those vouchers being used in Christian fundamentalist schools that don't teach science or history in any but an "exceptionalist" manner. I'm not opposed to church schools--but I am opposed to public money--however redefined to suit the courts--being used to support religious institutions of any kind. The JBS may not have much influence in its own right--but there certainly seems to be little difference between it and most of what you espouse. BTW: Still waiting for you to tell what you think the JBS 'gets right'. The JBS and its fellow travelers are free to hold their opinions; but no one should be free to make up their own facts. That's what the JBS has always done. And judged by the many and various opinions espoused by you and, for example, "TruthaboutIB" [sic]--there seems to be little that separates the JBS from you and she in either principle or practice.

Is this full-day kindergarten or full time day care?

Bingo! You nailed it Waltham!

day care is necessary because the Obama democrat tax and spend economy requires 2 parents working just to pay TAXES

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