It’s 8:17 p.m. and I’m freshly showered for the first time in days. Recuperating from Day 2 of potty training my daughter using Lora Jensen’s 3 Day Potty Training method, I’m supposed to be writing a column on teacher salaries. It was going to be satirical, edgy, and quite good, trust me, but I just don’t have the energy. I thought about emailing my editor and begging off a day, but tomorrow’s not looking any easier. What I’m aiming for now is something that could be described as “comprehensible.” I will write more about the 3 Day Potty Training experience when the dust settles, but for this column, I’d like to focus on one of the arguments that has come up recently in the debate over full-day kindergarten.
I/My kids/Somebody I know went through half-day kindergarten and turned out just fine, so why do today’s kids need/deserve full-day kindergarten?
I love this type of argument. Okay, really I don’t, but it does provoke a lot of fun declarations in my house. For instance, “I rode in my mom’s lap on the way home from the hospital. Who needs infant car seats?! I turned out just fine.”
Let me break this argument into the two pieces it actually is and explore them separately; Part A today and Part B in my next column.
[Somebody] went through half-day kindergarten and turned out just fine, therefore why isn’t it good enough for today’s children?
That’s great! Congratulations. Yes, I’m being a little sarcastic, but all kidding aside, I’m glad you’re satisfied with the educational experience you’re referencing. However, I have a question in return. Is the reality your “somebody” met when he finished his schooling back in the day, or even recently, likely to be the same as the reality of students graduating high school in 2025, or college in 2029? Not a chance. A report by Fast Future that was commissioned by the UK government came up with the following Top 20 Jobs for 2030:
Body part maker; nano-medic; GM or recombinant farmer; elderly wellness consultant; memory augmentation surgeon; ‘new science’ ethicist; space pilots, tour guides and architects; vertical farmers; climate change reversal specialist; quarantine enforcer; weather modification police; virtual lawyer; classroom avatar manager; alternative vehicle developers; narrowcasters; waste data handler; virtual clutter organizer; time broker/time bank trader; social ‘networking’ worker; branding managers.
Typing that list made me feel old.
Our nation’s children are languishing academically, especially in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). According to a report by the National Science Foundation, not only are our nation’s top students being outperformed by their peers in other countries, but fewer of our top students are entering the STEM careers, forcing industries to seek their talent outside the United States. A study completed in 2011 and discussed in the New York Times suggests that the long-term effects of a good kindergarten education lasts a lifetime.
"Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more."
The future of our country is not ‘just fine,’ and full-day kindergarten is just the beginning.