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Join the Online Petition: We Can Save the 1/2 Day Kindergarten Program

The future of our Kindergarten program must recognize all children. Let's challenge the BOE to endorse the support we provide for our youngsters.

Dear Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Guardians, and All Concerned Citizens,

My name is Mrs. Lakshmi Frechette.  I am a dedicated mother raising my five small children, a CT state certified educator (k-6), a former teacher in the Southington Public Schools (grades 3 & 5), and a life-long resident and taxpayer in the town of Southington.  I am writing this letter on behalf of our youngest students. 

My Concern:  
Our Superintendent of Schools has recently proposed to the Board of Education a full-day kindergarten program for all students with the intent to have it implemented next school year.  There are many layers of discontent, frustration, and sadness that this proposal has caused for me and my family.  At the heart of the matter, I believe half-day kindergarten is a program that highly regards child development.  It is a program that allows youngsters to grow at a rate that is consistent with their emotional maturity.  Unfortunately, today's child has become the unintended victim of increasing parental erosion due to rapid social change and continually rising expectations.  I am writing this letter to unite us in the belief that the world does not need 4, 5, and 6 year old youngsters who have been trained to perform.  What the world needs is young children who can think creatively, problem solve, and cope with stress.  How do we achieve this as a community?  We must allow our kindergarteners their rights to childhood.  Kindergarteners need more family time at home, and not longer days in school.  They need more unstructured free-play, and rich language development from their loving homes.  There is no substitute for the family unit in the development of a young child's cognitive and emotional well-being. 

Professional Research:  
After reviewing extensive research on half-day vs. all day kindergarten, there is no conclusive evidence that suggests an all-day kindergarten model surpasses the academic and social success of its students.  In fact, it has been well documented in professional journals that the benefits to be gained going from a half-day program to an all-day program in a middle-class suburban setting are minimal, and evaporate between 1st and 3rd grade.  In addition, attendance in full-day kindergarten has been negatively associated with students' attitudes toward learning, self-control, interpersonal skills, presence of anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, and sadness.  What has never been obliterated in educational and psychological research is the importance of the family and the need to increasingly strengthen and maintain the bonds among parents and their children.

Common Core State Standards:  As we look forward to the coming years, our state is in a transition period to comply with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  However, the CCSS and implementation of full-day kindergarten do not go hand-in-hand.  Understand, the CCSS have been designed to consist of FEWER learning standards, as compared to its predecessor the CT Standards, so as to allow more in-depth exploration for teaching and learning.  I encourage you to research the crosswalk documents on the State Department of Education's web page.  In comparing the CCSS to the CT Standards, overall, there is a 92% standards match in Mathematics, and an 80% standards match in English Language Arts (ELA). What is most noteworthy form the crosswalk analysis is that most of the matched standards are at the SAME GRADE LEVEL.  Also, recognize that under CT ELA Standards, Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Standards were matched to Common Core Kindergarten Standards.  In other words, what was once taught in preschool programs under CT Standards, will now be realigned into the kindergarten classroom under the Common Core State Standards.  Therefore, 38% of CC Kindergarten ELA Standards are introduced LATER in the school year than under CT Standards.

Half-Day Success:  
Some folks are under the impression that the half-day kindergarten program creates a rushed atmosphere for our youngsters and leaves much to be desired.  However, speaking from my own personal experience, I can attest to the inherent quality of the 1/2 day kindergarten model.  I have had the opportunity twice over, within the last four years, to evaluate the half-day program on a daily basis for two entire school years.  In addition, my third child is currently enrolled in the half-day kindergarten program. What I can tell you is that in the 1/2 day program while the children are engaged in learning, they do color, paint, sing, play, and socially engage with their peers, - this is all incorporated into the creative atmosphere of instruction implemented by our talented teachers, paraprofessionals, and school volunteers.  I must applaud our kindergarten teachers who continue to be successful in their instruction.  Squeezing meaningful instruction into a two hour and 42 minute day is demanding work. Yet these demands are appropriately placed- on the trained professionals, and will not be met with the same success if placed upon our youngest students.   Most children as young as 4, 5 and 6 do not have the physical strength, attention span, nor emotional maturity to meet the demands of a full-day program.  Please think back to your child's needs as he or she entered school, (or his/her needs as a beginning student) - every child is unique, these individual needs should be addressed by our Superintendent of Schools and not chosen one program over the other.

District-Wide Success:  Remember, the kindergarteners in our community are thriving and continue to advance to first grade with great success, all on the instruction of half-day programs.  Quantitative data analysis based on CMT, CAPT, and DRG comparisons have proven that Southington students (across all grade levels) are consistently marking their territory at "goal" level, and in the "advanced" level far above the "proficient" level of No Child Left Behind.  This quantitative data illuminates the success of our curriculum, efforts of our teachers, and most importantly the abilities of the students in our community.

All-Day Shortcomings:  
Lastly, as I see it the substantial flaws associated with the administration's proposal of a full-day kindergarten program is three-fold.  First, the administration is carelessly operating on a gut-level approach in shaping our youngest students' academic and social experiences.  The fact that there is no conclusive evidence that suggests an all-day program surpasses the academic and social success of its students should be reason enough to maintain the 1/2 day program.  Moreover, extensive research has clearly documented the negative affects impressed upon youngsters exposed to full-day K.  Therefore, to force such a program on the entire kindergarten population with no fair option being afforded to families who want the half-day experience for their children is unreasonable.  Second, the administration has openly admitted that their all-day proposal has not increased minutes in academic instruction across content areas.  The new 6.5 hour day has been stretched to allow flexible time for Developmental Play (detailed as centers, play-time, and nap-time), an extra snack time, lunch, recess, and specials have been increased by ten minutes.  This begs the formidable question:  Does this all-day K proposal blur the lines between public school instruction and daycare?  Third, the administration has yet to share with the public the quantitative data analysis that establishes a basis to move exclusively to an all-day kindergarten program.  Where is the district-wide data indicating the level of reading, writing, and mathematics achievement ALL of our K students have achieved by the end of the school year?  Educational programs are initiated based on quantitative data that reflects the need for such change.  It seems absurd for the administration to ask the Board of Education to make a decision prior to this information being presented.  The administration has communicated to the Board that K data and the framework of a typical all-day will only be made available after the Board adopts the all-day proposal.  We must encourage all 9 Board members to care enough to seek this information prior to making a decision.  This decision will forever affect Southington's youngest student population.  We should all care enough to examine the research and claims made by the administration before we allow full-day K to take place for all of our youngest students.   

Join The On-Line Petition:  
I have started a written petition to preserve the Half-Day Kindergarten program and have found there is an overwhelming number of concerned citizens who do not agree with the current proposal of All-Day Kindergarten. More recently, I have created an on-line petition to maintain the Half-Day Kindergarten program.  It is my vision that this on-line version will reach a greater audience to get involved.  Please take 30 seconds to join me in my effort to petition the Southington Board of Education by visiting this website:

To join the petition, simply click the link provided and add your signature.

You can also access the petition through Change.org.

Click on browse.
Under the Popular Topics heading click Education.
Then in the Search Education petitions bar type:
Southington, CT Board of Education


This will also link you directly to where you can add your signature. 

Your support of the half-day kindergarten program will challenge the administration and Board of Education to address the basic needs of our youngest students, instead of being part of the downfall by diverting attention away from what most needs to be championed:  continued opportunity to strengthen the bonds between our youngest children, their families, and their childhoods.           

Sincerely,

Lakshmi Frechette

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Allen E. Horner, CPA December 13, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Thank you for your well-framed thoughts. I'd be happy to sign your petition on-line and would also sign the hard-copy. Please keep the readers informed of the results.
Arthur Cyr December 13, 2012 at 02:31 PM
I agree with Mrs. Frechette. All Day Kindergarten in Southington is unneeded and also very costly to implement and continue every year. To add All Day Kindergarten would cost taxpayers $1,078,392 next year!* Yes - over ONE MILLION tax dollars more. * See BOE presentation 11-15-12, page six, panel #2. Future yearly program costs = $1,020,933 per year, every year until they expand it further to cost more. Dear BOE - the checkbook is empty. NO more! Zero budget increases for next year.
SkinC51 December 13, 2012 at 02:36 PM
This was a well researched topic and I definitely will sign the petition. There is no need to push our little ones to join our chaotic society at such a young age. Does the Superintendent realize that some of these children are only 4 years old!!!
Julie L December 13, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Seriously. These professional educators have our children with best interest in mind. If your child is 4 and not ready for this type of kindergarten program - hold them back. If you think as a parent you can do better... Home school your child for kindergarten. There are so many children that can benefit from a program to teach out children in a fully rounded way.
Arthur Cyr December 13, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Some children are not ready at 4 years old, some not even ready at 5 years old for normal kindergarten. And remember - kindergarten is NOT required by any state or federal mandate. Not even half day! Can the majority of children benefit from this? Very possible, but then again if all PARENTS spent more time with their children they would all do better in school. Say NO to mandatory All Day Kindergarten in Southington.
Kristopher P December 13, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Kindergarten in the 1/2 day format is not developmentally appropriate at all. The expectations on the kids are dictated by the State, not by Southington's administrators. Dr. Erardi, and the members of the committees who researched and made the proposal, many of whom are Kindergarten teachers, are making their recommendations based on what is best for the majority of Southington children. It is not going to work for everyone, and that point was made several times by Dr. Erardi and by Mrs. Smith. I invite those who are interested to speak to either of them about what options people might have who do not feel that All Day K would work for their children. I also invite you to speak to the many talented Kindergarten teachers in town who are in complete support of this proposal and ask them why. Mrs. Frechette is entitled to her opinion, and it is obvious that she has done her research and is genuinely concerned for her children. However, she should refrain from attacking people who do not agree with her position as it is unnecessary and counter productive. She can make her point much more effectively without putting others down. There are many, many parents who do not have the luxury of staying home with their children as she does. That does not mean that they do not love or want the best for their children like she does. She would be better served to remember that one of the lessons we should be teaching our children is to tolerate other's choices and lifestyles.
Kristi Sunbury December 13, 2012 at 03:53 PM
I am looking to sign the for all day petition if there is one. It is...as you stated...not mandatory so we all deserve options.
K.K. Ramaswamy December 13, 2012 at 05:02 PM
First of all, I appreciate Mrs. Frechette for bringing to focus the issues stemming from full day kindergarten. I feel that the current social trends tend more and more to foster remote control operations for the childrens achievement by turning their face away from direct interaction with their little ones. Remember the 'Staples' T.V commercial. I fully support Mrs. Frechette in her endeavor to foster half day kindergaten schooling.
GloriaB December 13, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Ms. Frechette says she has formed her opinion based on extensive research yet she cites none of this research. I'm sure that there is research to support full-day kindergarten as well. What do the kindergarten teachers think? I would want to hear from them; they are the ones who are dealing with the actual students day in and day out. I can't imagine that the benefits of a longer day wouldn't outweigh any negatives. And, Mr. Cyr, it can't always be about the $$$$. If it's a good idea and will benefit our children that should be the first consideration.
Steve Az December 13, 2012 at 09:01 PM
I agree with Gloria, the $'s aren't on trial here. In fact, this relatively small amount could serve as a lower-cost quality-of-life incentive for young/new families looking to relocate to the general area AND serve as deciding factor in choosing our town over another outlying municipality.
Arthur Cyr December 13, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Steve, you posted "this relatively small amount". Either you didn't read the entire proposal or you got fooled by the reductions at the middle schools and the high school and all other grades like many people. As presented by the BOE on 11-15-12, page six, this proposal is an additional $1,020,933. Let's repeat that - ONE MILLION and TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS more. Per year! That's not small. Yes, education is important. Ask the teachers? Ask the principals (the professionals) or the BOE and they will all tell you that they need more employees, more equipment, more books, and more time with the children. That's actually no different than when you talk to the police department, the fire department, the health department, the parks department, etc, etc, etc. The Board of Education needs to be reminded of one of the first words they ever learned; NO!
Christy Vining Russell December 14, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Maybe those circulating this petition should sit down with a copy of the curriculum for kindergarten. These teachers don't have enough time to get what needs to be done in 2 1/2 hours a day. Look at the requirements to enter 1st grade! I raised all my children in Southington, and at that time, through the 90's, it was enough. It's not today! What my children learned in kindergarten, they need to know to enter kindergarten if they want to keep up! My daughter, SHS 2001, is a kindergarten teacher. She's a wonderful teacher, who has twice the number of students to teach a day as a 3rd or 5th grade teacher Ms Frechette, yet how many minutes of language arts or math they are required to teach are the same for a half day kindergarten as they are for 3rd grade full day! The rigid time requirements per subject per day barely allowed for snack anymore! These teachers NEED the full day in order to teach what's required. And they do it twice a day. If you're that concerned about your children, you're a teacher -- teach them yourself, and give the kindergarten teachers a chance to do what they've trained for -- TEACH and inspire our children, not be a boot camp for first grade! Maybe you should take a research poll of the kindergarten teachers and see if you feel the same way! They need the time to teach and nurture our children, which is what you should be wanting them to do! Mr Cyr you are an uninformed fool for saying teachers wanting more time w/ kids to talking to parks dept request
Michelle Brennan December 14, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Southington already has a trial program in place to address those kindergarten students that are struggling. It is a quasi full day program. Instead of expanding the day for our youngest students and perpetuating school burnout for the majority, why not just keep the full day program available to the students who are struggling rather than forcing ALL students into a developmentally inappropriate program and allow those kids to be at home. In this way we will not be spending more money each year. And if we are told the struglling population is the majority, what are these kids learning in pre-school?We should not be spending money for anticipated remediation, especially if any expected gains evaporate in the mid grades. In reading the comments it had appears that most of the supporters of the full day plan are incoming kindergarten parents. Have these same parents been following the board these past few years when the talented and gifted program in the middle school was cut and class sizes increased across the district because there was 'no money'.? Where is the million to fund all day kindergarten coming from? Why do we have 26+ children in some of our elrmentary classes? If the common core is so difficult for students and we are willing to spend 1 million on the incoming kindergarteners, what are we doing for the rest of our students not in kindergarten to master the CCSS?
Michelle Brennan December 14, 2012 at 04:21 AM
I would also like to state that at no time has Mrs. Frechette been on the 'attack' regarding lifestyle or life choices.All of her points have been gently stated. She is to be commended for handling this matter passionately and professionally without going on the 'attack'. We should all aspire to handle ourselves in the way she has when we have an issue we are passionate about.
Arthur Cyr December 14, 2012 at 04:32 AM
As stated at Tonight's BOE meeting, the 30+ students presently in the TRIAL of all day K are INTERVENTION students. In other words, these are 1/2 day K students identified as in need of extra time and effort. They had better make huge gains with nearly double the time and effort (and costs). BEWARE! Do not let the teachers or consultants or members of the BOE use this TRIAL for IN NEED students as proof of success. These are NOT the standard range children. I am not trying to be mean or anything, but let's not base the majority of our school system on the lowest common denominator.
Dorothy Drechsler December 14, 2012 at 04:36 PM
As a former first grade teacher I support the all day kindergarten program and hope that it will be fiscally possible for our town to implement it. The implication that Dr. Erardi's and the board have not researched it is unfounded. This administration has researched and prepared for the many positive changes in our district. We all know that research can be found to support different results. I have had contact with many teachers in districts which provide full day kindergarten and have nieces and nephews who have attended full day kindergarten. Generally speaking, they are better prepared. academically and adjust to the first grade program with greater ease. There will always be children who are bright and have mastered many of the concepts presented in kindergarten. Our district provides these students with a curriculum suited to their needs. Most of the children need the time to practice and apply skills presented. I feel that there should be a petition to support full day, as well. There may be many who sign Mrs. Frechette's petition who have no involvement with young children but will sign anything to keep tax rates down. This must be considered.
Pensive December 14, 2012 at 04:57 PM
From my daughter on the Board of Ed in Coventry: Interesting... the state is going to mandate all day kindergarten within the next 2 years. Most towns are doing it before the state forces them because state doesn't usually give you enough time to plan properly otherwise. The state has mandated something called the Common Core Curriculum. And it takes much of what used to be done in 1st grade and requires it to be taught in kindergarten. It is too tough to do that much work in the 3 hours the little guys are in 1/2day K. So it is sort of a back door unfunded mandate for all day K. We found that the savings for eliminating the midday bus run covered almost 75% of the cost to add more teachers. But we didn't have to build a building or addition to cover it.
Arthur Cyr December 14, 2012 at 06:17 PM
To Bruce - Interesting indeed - because as of today, 1/2 day kindergarten is NOT mandated by the state. Based on your informal info from another town... the state is gong to purportedly going to make the double jump to mandate ALL DAY K within 2 years? In all the information and reasoning from our school system - NO WHERE is that stated or even implied. And that 'might' have been a partial reason for proposing this now - BUT that has not been said in Southington. In Southington, per the BOE info packet, this program expansion would cost $1,020,000 and the bus savings is ONLY $85,000, so the above info is not relevant to Southington.
Elizabeth December 15, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I would sign a petition supporting full day Kindergarten!
Marc January 06, 2013 at 04:03 AM
Arthur Cyr please relocate to another state or country. Thank you.
Pamela Pearson January 11, 2013 at 04:30 PM
I would support signing a full day kindegarten petition as well!!
Pamela Pearson January 11, 2013 at 04:32 PM
This petition only has 105 supporters out of how many residents in Southington. I would say that sends a VERY strong message!
John Moise January 12, 2013 at 03:27 AM
Pamela, the good news is they actually signed their names, By the way this is just the online petition.
Heather Davis March 05, 2013 at 05:29 PM
Well since kindergarten is not mandated by the state, if you dont want your child in the all day program dont sent them... the rest of the kids can learn the curriculum at a good pace, and know what they need to entering first grade... problem solved...
Deidre Foster July 14, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Although I no longer reside in Southington, this is a well thought out article. Children need more time to be children, not to be thrust into school where they are expected to conform to a cookie cutter ideal. Kindergarten should remain a half-day program. (See a- email me- dfoster@hawaii.edu) Sincerely, Deidre (Morgan) Foster

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