I encourage readers to support funding LD 1143, “An Act to Provide Full Day Kindergarten Programs,” to mandate full-day kindergarten in all districts in Maine.
Early childhood is an incredibly formative time for children both academically and socio-emotionally, and school systems need to take advantage of this time. It has been empirically proved that students who attend full-day kindergarten learn more and are better prepared for school than students who attend half-day kindergarten. Children who attend full-day kindergarten are also less likely to be held back in later grades. Further, studies show that full-day kindergarten programs are especially beneficial for traditionally disadvantaged students because they are able to spend more time engaged in learning.
The beauty of public schooling is that it attempts to give every child the same opportunities regardless of their socioeconomic status. Full-day kindergarten would help to mitigate the opportunity gap. It would give all kindergarten students access to a full-day academic program, which is needed for educational readiness and is the basis of school success.
With the implementation of the Common Core State Standards soon approaching, the stakes are even higher for proficiency and academic readiness. Maine needs full-day kindergarten programs in order to give students the foundation they need to be successful in school and meet kindergarten standards. Without providing districts funding and support for implementation, however, a simple mandate will not be effective.