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Are Politics Part of the Kindergarten Equation?

At a Jan. 20 League of Women Voters forum on Full Day Kindergarten, President of the Radnor Township Education Association David Wood said something that has ignited even more debate on the plan to implement full-day kindergarten in Radnor’s schools.

At a Jan. 20 League of Women Voters forum on Full Day Kindergarten, President of the Radnor Township Education Association David Wood said something that has ignited even more debate on the plan to implement full-day kindergarten in Radnor’s schools in September.

Wood told the crowd that he was concerned with the political risk that full day kindergarten could be overturned by a future School Board its implementation were delayed.

So, was Wood saying that politics is the reason for the implementation of the program, despite major space issues in Radnor’s elementary schools?

“I did say that one of the reasons for doing it this year is that the longer it gets delayed the more likely it will be delayed or not implemented due to turnover on the board,” Wood responded to Radnor Patch. “This is clearly not the only reason but I am sure it is having an impact.”

Politics aside, Wood said that teachers in Radnor support the implementation as soon as possible “because we believe it is value added for students.”

He said that kindergarten teachers think that the curriculum of kindergarten require a full day.

“Students can’t complete the curriculum during the given time,” he said. “With Common Core and an increase in testing and mandates, they can’t finish what they have to finish in a half day.” 

The teachers’ union has a representative council with representatives from every school in Radnor. “There’s consensus at representative council that we should move forward to support our elementary school program,” he said.

Wood said there are definitely going to be growing pains in implementation—space-wise, budget-wise and other wise.

“No matter what year it occurs in it’s going to be a difficult decision.

I worry about making sure the curriculum is what we want, that we’re using time efficiently and getting the most out of the students attending,” he said. “It’s an expense on the district side and we have to make sure it’s doing what it needs to do.”

In the end, Wood said it would be naïve to think there are no politics involved in this issue—or on the School Board as a whole. But, he said, in a few years opponents of immediate implementation may find that it was a good thing after all.

Linda G January 27, 2014 at 09:42 PM
Common Core pushes full day kindergarten. PLEASE research Common Core. Looking for access to children as early and for as long as they can get them. After all, children don't belong to their parents....
Annie Webb January 27, 2014 at 10:58 PM
LM and TE have to deal with Common Core, too and they are not pushing FDK on their students. Kindergarten isn't even mandated in PA, so the argument over Common Core is moot. I'm not willing to implement a program that will bankrupt the school budget for "political reasons." This is ridiculous.
KDS14 January 28, 2014 at 06:48 AM
The politics are real, but they are influencing the debate against FDK. The measure was passed, but there are board members who are up for election next year who are getting spooked by the vocal minority in this issue. There is the issue of FDK and then there is the issue of FDK implementation - they are 2 separate issues. Implementation plans should be debated, not FDK itself. The measure was already passed by the board. Why are board members continuing to hedge on FDK rather than rally together to make it successful?
Ylva January 28, 2014 at 06:57 AM
The issue is FDK in 2014 which is all about implementation! There is a majority actually who are concerned about the current implementation plan because it goes against expert advice, has been compressed beyond what's reasonable due to missed deliverable and mismanagement, and is inflexible in it's approach to our youngest students who enter public school with different backgrounds and may not all be ready for FDK 5 days per week.
Linda G January 28, 2014 at 07:01 AM
Saying LM & TE have Common Core but haven't pushed it yet is elementary. Someone (in this case, Radnor) has to get it first, so that the others will want it to "keep up with the Jone's," all the while playing into the hands of Common Core. You are being played by the system. Wake up. They believe that your children are not yours!
jcb January 28, 2014 at 07:32 AM
Every board member, whether or not in support of FDK, is obligated to figure out how to pay for it in the face of $18M budgetary shortfalls within 5 years, the sensibility in implementing it with severe space issues that could be resolved within a year, and no pilot program to work out the kinks before imposing it system wide. Some board members refer to these problems as "temporary," "challenges," and other words used to simultaneously acknowledge and dismiss them. Don't treat our children as sacrificial lambs in order to achieve your ideology. If FDK is as necessary as some board members assert, then it will hold up throughout the next election.
RadnorResident January 28, 2014 at 09:48 AM
This board is creating a problem and proposing band aids to fix it. No harm can be done by waiting to implement a FDK option if and when the Radnor Township residents believe it is beneficial.
Howard Gartland January 28, 2014 at 10:13 AM
This decision is not as simple as whether one is “for” or “against” FDK. The Board must consider all of the impacts of mandating FDK over multiple future years. What are the benefits of mandatory FDK versus future funding for programs such as STEM and Fine Arts (ex: RHS does not offer AP Computer Science)? Are guidance departments properly resourced? Should AP programs be increased or reduced? Extra-curricular funding, how many students don’t participate in activities because they are unaffordable? All of these worthwhile programs compete with mandatory FDK for future resources. The board must deliberate, not only on the near term issues created by mandatory FDK, but also on the longer term consequences of establishing a new and resource intensive program.
Frank January 28, 2014 at 11:41 AM
If you supported Adrossan than you should support FDK. Neither one had all the details worked out but you believe in the strategy. Let's get the planning done and move ahead full speed. If it cannot be implemented in time then delay it one year.
Dan Webster January 28, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Yes, Frank, fire, aim, ready makes me Radnor Proud! It's so much easier to spend other peoples' money on questionable initiatives and figure out all the inconvenient facts afterwards.
jcb January 28, 2014 at 01:35 PM
And thank you, Sam, for looking into this matter. I wish you were reporting that Mr. Wood misspoke, but sadly for our children, that teacher meant every word.
Brendan McGowan January 28, 2014 at 02:57 PM
"Wood said there are definitely going to be growing pains in implementation—space-wise, budget-wise and other wise" Certainly there would be less growing pains if you actually had a budgeted plan that included actual costs of construction (which we don't have since there are no architect approved plans), teachers salaries w/benefits and necessary admin support, and curriculum materials all factored in that showed a viable solution to what would then exceed an 18M++ deficit. Also, maybe if more kids weren't added to already crowded schools until construction was done there wouldn't be space constraints? Again, I am missing why political urgency is taking the place of common sense planning and putting our kids interests first.
Gary Merken January 28, 2014 at 04:58 PM
Although it's not a complete solution by any stretch of the imagination, a first and easy step to put children first is to swap out, at Wayne and Ithan, the "temporary" trailers for more classroom space. To the extent these trailers contain classroom space, these should instead devoted to administrative space (principal, secretaries, etc.). Then the regular building space currently occupied by administrative functions should be converted to classroom use.
Annie Webb January 28, 2014 at 05:14 PM
I like the creativity, Gary, but you can't have staff outside with kids in the building. For any kind of emergency, intruder, lock down, fire, you need all the administrators inside.
Gary Merken January 28, 2014 at 05:42 PM
Annie, I guess I'm just remembering when my son's school was being expanded. They put trailers out in the parking lot for the administrators, and turned the administrators' offices into classrooms for a couple of years while the construction proceeded (necessitating taking some other classrooms out of action for awhile). But this was back in the early 2000s when we didn't have to be concerned about intruders and lockdowns.
Linda G January 28, 2014 at 06:47 PM
Dr. Testimony on Common Core... http://youtu.be/Wt9_NWE-oMA But don't believe me, research yourself. Common Core is pushing FDK.
RadnorResident January 29, 2014 at 01:49 AM
Are politics at work here? Well, I don't know, let's ask: Eric Zajac, Susan Stern, Kimberly Dougherty, Lydia Solomon, and Lisa Borowski. They acted as though they listened to each voice tonight at the school board meeting, didn't answer a SINGLE concern and are about to vote for mandatory FDK for ALL to begin in just 6 months with the Radnor Tax payers to foot the bill. Each of these board members are a huge disappointment. I look forward to election time, let's get them OUT.

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