"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Case For Full Day Kindergarten in NH

NH House Bill 155, a bipartisan bill, proposes to  increase funding for pupils attending full-day kindergarten programs. Related to this bill, is HB 129 which woulrepeal the education tax credit program. It was passed in 2012 over the veto of Gov. John Lynch and was subsequently ruled unconstitutional in 2013 by NH Superior Court Judge John Lewis because it violated NH’s separation of church and state (NH Constitution Part II, Article 83.." no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools of institutions of any religious sect or denomination." ). On appeal, the NH Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit due to lack of standing by the plaintiff and did not rule on the constitutionality of the education voucher law. 

Hearings were scheduled for today in the House Education committee on both bills.

Representative Mary Stuart Gile, co-sponsor of both bills, holds her Doctorate in Education from Vanderbilt University and her Master’s in Education from UNH. She began her teaching career as a kindergarten teacher at the Whitefield School in Jefferson, NH. She is a renowned expert in the area of child development and, among other accomplishments, established the Child Development Center and Laboratory School at NHTI.
She is also the former Chair and Ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee. She released the following statements subsequent to the public hearings on HB 155 and HB 129: 
Development Center and Laboratory School at NHTI.
The skills attained by children during their early, impressionable years of life are critical to their development throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Overwhelming research shows the value of kindergarten programs to social and academic development. It was not until 2009 that New Hampshire caught-up to the rest of the nation by offering public kindergarten in every school district. However we remain one of the few states that do not provide funding for full-day kindergarten programs. Our failure to reimburse cities and towns for full-day kindergarten acts as a deterrent to communities that wish to enact these critical programs. 
With the difficulties that we have securing needed funding for our public schools, it makes no sense to siphon money away from the tax base that provides that funding. Further, the New Hampshire Constitution expressly prohibits the financing of religious schools that the education voucher tax credit authorizes. Repealing this unconstitutional voucher law will return some sorely needed funds to our public education system.”

Our Turn: It’s time to support full day kindergarten
For the Monitor
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Today, in the House Education Committee, bipartisan legislation to finally fully support full day
kindergarten will be heard. Full-day kindergarten has solid bipartisan support. In fact,
Gov. Sununu expressed support for full funding of full-day kindergarten during the
campaign, and recent polling commissioned by Save the Children Action Network shows
about 70 percent of Granite State voters agree that funding full-day kindergarten should
be a major budget priority.
The central mission of all our organizations – Save the Children Action Network,
Moms Rising and Every Child Matters in New Hampshire – is to give every child a strong
start in life and an equal opportunity to succeed.
Evidence-based research shows that children from birth to age 5 who lack access to high quality
early learning programs often start to fall behind their peers, and many never catch
up. A recent report from a Nobel Prize-winning economist in December 2016 shows an
annual rate of return on investments in early childhood development for many children
can be $13 for every $1 invested due to improved outcomes in education, health,
sociability, economic productivity and reduced crime.
A full-day of learning offers greater social, emotional and intellectual benefits to
kindergartners. They have more time to focus on activities, to reflect
on what they have learned and to transition between tasks. Overall, children in full-day kindergarten
programs are more likely than children in half-day kindergarten programs to devote time
every day to reading, mathematics and social studies.
Further research demonstrates that children adjust well to the full-day format. While some
may argue that full-day kindergarten is too much for kids, research shows that 5-year-olds
are more than ready for a longer day. They also do better in a setting that allows them time
to learn and explore activities in depth.
In New Hampshire and across the country, early childhood programs such as high-quality
pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten have been shown to result in lasting gains in
academic achievement, increased graduation rates and reduced crime rates. Specifically,
full-day kindergarten closes achievement gaps between young children from minority and
low-income families and their peers. By providing a solid foundation of learning to children
from all backgrounds, full-day kindergarten programs ensure all students’ academic, social
and emotional success.
Investing in early-childhood education is the most effective way to break the cycle of
poverty and help close the opportunity gap. These investments lay the foundation for
success in school, career and life. The type of environment and the quality of interaction to
which children are exposed in the first five years of life greatly influence the outcomes of
their adult lives. For these reasons and many more, investing in full-day kindergarten is a
We hope members of the Legislature will join us in support of adequately funding a full day
of kindergarten for all Granite State families.
It’s a smart investment in the future of our children and our state.
(Lindsay Hanson is the New Hampshire government relations manager for Save the
Children Action Network. Christina D’Allesandro is the New Hampshire director at
MomsRising. MaryLou Beaver is the director of Every Child Matters in New Hampshire.)

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