No Room for Full Day Kindergarten

When she was running to be leader of the PC Party, Premier Alison Redford expressed support for full-day kindergarten. This, in spite of the fact that there is no evidence of any lasting positive impact on students associated with full-day kindergarten. Today, school boards in Calgary are speaking out about the lack of room in their facilities for full-day kindergarten.
Both the public and Catholic boards in Calgary would have a hard time fitting the new program in their facilities. Enrollment has increased, and could well increase dramatically in other parts of the province. In spite of that, the government still seems keen on developing some kind of full-day-kindergarten program.
In our view, the focus should be on providing good quality programming at the stage where it matters – in those primary years where students are learning reading, math, and other basic things that they need to know. Expanding kindergarten and making it mandatory (as some have suggested) will not actually improve the quality of education. (For more info on what the evidence says, read this study commissioned by the Edmonton Public  School Board – but the summaries are a bit deceptive, so you need to read the actual study).
What does this have to do with choice in education and parental authority? Parents have a right not to put their children in kindergarten programs – school is mandatory, but parents are perfectly capable of arranging the socialization and other skills that children would otherwise learn while they are in kindergarten. Putting in full-day programs in schools will make it more difficult for some parents to access half-day programs. If parents want their children in a full-day program at 4 or 5 years old, that is certainly their right, but there is a difference between funding education and funding childcare. In our view, full day kindergarten is more about childcare than about education, so the government shouldn’t fund it with dollars that could otherwise go to classrooms where that extra injection of money would actually make a real difference to student outcomes.
Rather than full day kindergarten, the government should focus on the real priorities of parents.

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