A story last week in the Arizona Republic implied that the loss of state funding for full-day kindergarten will permanently hamper the education of schoolchildren. But this simply is not the case.
In 2005, the Goldwater Institute conducted a comprehensive review of education progress locally and across the country of students that enrolled in pre-school, half-day kindergarten and full-day kindergarten. This review of all available scientific research found that some full-day kindergarten students fared slightly better in reading, writing and math in the first grade, but this advantage fades rather quickly. By the end of third grade, students who had enrolled in full-day kindergarten performed no better in their classes than students who went to kindergarten for a half-day only (which Arizona is still funding). More recently, a study by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department released in January 2010 found that any benefits from Head Start pre-school classes disappear by the end of first grade. Simply put, all-day kindergarten, pre-school, and other early childhood education programs are not effective over time.
Many public schools have said they are going to provide full-day kindergarten despite the loss of state dollars, even if they have to charge families for the classes. The Legislature and Governor Jan Brewer wisely decided to focus on preventing the state from going bankrupt while letting local schools weigh the value of offering full-day kindergarten against other priorities that compete for limited tax dollars.
Le Templar is the communications director for the Goldwater Institute.
Head Start Impact Study: Final Report