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Does all-day kindergarten have long-term benefits?

Each week we select a news story, Letter to the Editor, column or editorial that's generated a lot of feedback at PostBulletin.com and reprint some of those comments on this page. This week's topic is Monday's editorial about the trend toward all-day, everyday kindergarten throughout Minnesota. The vast majority of school districts in southeast Minnesota now offer all-day kindergarten, but the state only pays 60 percent of the cost. Rochester does not yet offer district-wide all-day kindergarten.

Below are some of the comments we received.

"Ah! I get it now. Free all-day kindergarten is supposed to turn into a liberal campaign slogan. Very clever, though not so subtle, on the part of the P-B. ... This is simply code for raising property taxes. They will never stop using kids to advance their failed agendas. Shameful."

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"Test scores? Anything to back this up at all, other than your impression on childhood physiology? It's the quality of classroom hours, not the quantity."

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"If we invested in early childhood education and all-day kindergarten, perhaps we wouldn't be spending so much on intervention programs at upper grades."

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"Art Rolnick, formerly of the Federal Reserve, did a study that the return on investment for every $1 invested in kindergarten is $12-16 down the road. What else has that return on investment? Nothing!"

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"This has nothing to do with education. It has to do with the fact that more and more mothers have had to go to work full-time, and all-day kindergarden makes that possible without day-care costs.

Get real."

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"All-day kindergarten has been around long enough in other states that there should be information to show if it really can make a difference for children. If it is shown to have lasting effects, then we should look into it. To do it to help defray daycare costs obviously is not a justification. Let's honestly put the children first."

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"We should be informed of how much, if any, improvement is seen for children who have had all-day kindergarten. Personally, I think the half-day program is way too short. Education is costly because every school district is spending a lot on administration. We should be sharing administrative jobs between districts as a way of putting more money directly into the classrooms."

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"It's just like Head Start. There are minimal gains while those kids are in Head Start, but as soon as they leave the program those gains are lost. A 5-year-old boy in all-day kindergarten? LOL. This can be nothing but tax-dollar-funded babysitting in the afternoon. Next they're pushing state-run preschool — so the state can get an even earlier start at indoctrinating our children. Plus, state-run preschools and all-day kindergarten will require more teachers/government employees, but especially bump up the union member numbers."

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"The money is there, it's just spend on pay to union members — luxury pay such as 3-4 weeks paid time off,  2 weeks of holdiays off, paying their subs each day a teacher is gone, bogus staff development days and all summer off. It should be the parents' choice if all-day is wanted, and not just used for free daycare."

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"Teachers don't get paid in the summer, so how can they have the summer off? No, I am not a teacher, but it is this type of inane comment that drives me crazy! Most people who state this so flippantly could never, ever spend all day, every day (for 183 days) with their own children, let alone 22 - 30 of them in a classroom! All-day kindergarten can be a wonderful option for schools, but I do agree with some of the above comments that it is often used by parents in lieu of daycare.

As a parent, you need to know your child well enough to know if he/she can handle the rigors of 5-day/week school at such a tender age of 5. Of course, if the school district has wonderful teachers who can monitor the balance, there should be the option. I just hate to see it become the norm. They grow up so fast the way it is."

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"My kids' teachers never had three weeks of PTO (where did you get that from?), and they weren't paid for holidays either. (We used to live next to a teacher until he moved a couple years ago.) I know some of them came back from a summer of study, and wow, it made a big difference!"

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"How about if we introduce all-day kindergarten and eliminate 12th grade from the public school system? The opinion piece did state that a 5-year-old brain is very absorbent. After 11th grade, the student could go on to a vocational program or enter a communty college. We need to get young people into the work force sooner. We will need more young workers to contribute to the social security program so it remains solvent."

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"That suggestion actually makes a lot of sense. Maybe our entire school system starting at age 5 is the problem. Have it start sooner, since once students turn 16, many don't want to remain. Have a career path for those who want to go directly to a university, a different one for going into a trade and one for general business skills. What we have now in this country clearly isn't working. New ideas might make a huge difference."

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"How about a real solution, one that would quickly place us on a path to economic superiority through a superior labor force. Head Start, kindergarten, primary school and two years of college, tech or an associates degree. No book fees, no tuition, with free breakfast and lunch. Education is the single most important thing we can offer our children for our future. Teaching is the single most important job in the world."

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