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Letter: District Should Hold Public Meeting for Full-Time Kindergarten Selection

A Lacey resident voices concerns that students who are not selected for full-time kindergarten will be less prepared

This letter was submitted to the Lacey Township School District by a Lacey resident.

Dear Lacey School District,

Parents in Forked River have recently been informed about a full day kindergarten pilot program in Lacey that will begin in September of 2012. That is awesome news for our children and can surely help shape our kids properly as they begin their academic careers. Thank you.

Being that 23 other school districts in Ocean County have full day kindergarten, it is more than great to have Lacey participating and benefiting. While this is good news for residents of Forked River, there are also a couple concerns, which I am sure you expected.

Students in the full time will benefit with an estimated 30 percent more reading and literacy, and 46 percent more math. A major concern is what about the kids that can still only go half days? They are going to be less prepared for first grade, while kids' fortunate enough to be picked from a lottery benefit with more education? I am not sure how this fair to the kids. Isn't the point to give all the kids the same, equal opportunity? (We understand this is a pilot program.)

also lists benefits such as lunch, physical education, and a better transition into first grade. Parents are definitely confused why only 20 to 30 percent of students will benefit. Something doesn't seem right with that.

All Lacey Township kids deserve the same opportunities and should always be the top priority, especially when starting their education. Nothing could be more important. While parents understand it is a lottery, how it that fair?

Some families have two working parents, and some do not. Why is that not being considered in whom is in going into the lottery? The point is, some families pay $500 or more a month to have their son or daughter in full time, extended hour day care because both parents work. Or maybe parents have their kid in daycare so they can learn and build proper social skills. 

If a child is in part time kindergarten, working parents are still going to have to pay for before and after care somewhere because nothing is offered at the school.

If a family that only has one working parent gets picked through the lottery, they might be perfectly content with that. Sending their child full day not only gives them a huge education benefit, but some will surely claim it keeps their kid out of their hair all day.

While residents of Forked River know and understand what an anonymous lottery is, is that really the way it is going to work? People have friends; there are such things as politics everywhere. Trust us, people that have their kids in sports know the same thing.

At the end of the day, it is usually who you know, not what you know. While it could never be proven, parents are confident there would be at least a few people "placed" or "guaranteed" a spot in the program.

Make it fair for all, and have a meeting with parents, picking the names while everyone watches them drawn.

Being realists, we understand everything with a brand new program will not to fall into place at one time. It is new for the district, and hopefully will turn into a full time program for all children in the future. We are hopeful and positive that Lacey School District is trying their best, and is excited for the full time program.

In our opinion, parents would pay to educate their kids in a full day program, rather than miss a great opportunity based on a lottery that will give some kindergartners major advantages over others.

Full day kindergarten is a huge opportunity for children, especially for those that did not attend a preschool program. Boys and girls that have been in a preschool program, whether full or part time, already have advantages over stay-at-home kids. Something needs to bridge the gap and make it fair for all, not only financially, but also academically. The first years of a child's education can be just as important as their last.

Thank you for listening and we look forward to a fantastic school year.

Forked River Parents

A Parent of a PSD child July 18, 2012 at 07:45 PM
I agree with your letter. It should be done in a public setting. I wish that all students would be given the opportunity for full-time kindergarten. I do disagree that students in the PreSchool Disable Program have some advantage over those that have stayed home. The students that are in that program are there because of a developmental delay, a physical condition, a neurological condition and so forth.
Lonna thurman July 19, 2012 at 12:45 PM
I think she meant preschool in general... my son will be going into kindergarten and I paid to have him go to preschool last year for 3 days a week. He will definitely have more of an advantage then the children who have had no school experience whatsoever. He only went half days and when I registered him I thought what a good transition! Going from 3 half days to 5 half days isn't so bad (even though he will be going less because he went 3 full hours at preschool) =, but now he may jumo to full days? If we are picked I will let him decide weather he wants to do full days or not... I think he will benifit greatly from it because he is sooooo eager to learn, but at the same time I feel bad for those who will not get picked. Actually I feel bad for all of them because one of the groups is going to suffer when going into 1st. Be it they are behind or ahead because either they will be stressed to keep up or bored being "dumbed" down.
Tammy baker July 19, 2012 at 02:15 PM
First, this letter was written by 1 parent. Please do not include all of us in your letter. Signed by Forked River Parents. (not) I do not agree on your comments on working parents. The financial situation of each family is not the schools responsibility. I, am a stay at home parent. My child went to Pre k last year. He still is way behind the other kids that have been in a daycare setting for numerous years. Just because I could not afford to send him since he was 2 why should the school take that into account. . If you want it to be fair then have all the children tested as before and place the children who need the most help in the F/T k program. That would be fair. This way when all the children move to the 1st grade they are all on the same level. No one child benefited more than another child then. Financial burden -2parents working is not the schools problem or foundation on who should be in f/t. K. The need of the child should be the only factor in this new venture. Hopefully all the parents will realize this and if there child is picked for full-time I hope the parent makes the right choice . If your child is reading and writing please keep him in part time kindergarten. This way the children who need the extra help will be able to get in the full day. This is what should be done. PaRENTS REMEMBER THIS IS FOR THE CHILDREN NOT FOR US. IF A CHILD NEEDS EXTRA HELP OR IS FAR BEHIND THEN THEY SHOULD BE IN THE PROGRAM. THANK YOU 1 parent in forked river
Lonna thurman July 19, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Yes that sounds like a good idea!! I do think my son will benifit greatly in full day kindergarten, but I know there are probably other children who may need it more. He doesn't know how to read, but he can write words if I spell them for him. Honestly if he does get picked me and my husband agreed we will let him decide... I know he is only 5, but he knows weather or not he wants to eat lunch at school lol. I think they should have done this months ago before we registered our kids into kindergarten. That way they could have had time to test the children and see where they are at to see who needs the full day the most. I am new to Lacey Twp. and I always thought they tested children anyway before kindergarten to see where they were at before so they could have a plan already for that child(ren). At least where I used to live when my sisters first started school they got tested and even when I was a kid they tested us before entering school. Maybe us parents should get together and do something about this if possible... it is already so close to school starting......
Tammy baker July 19, 2012 at 03:04 PM
They use to test the children in july and August. This was phased out because There is no developmental kindergarten this year. But with that being said the BOE of Lacey should have had a prepared master plan in place to make sure that this pilot program would be a sucess. This would mean taking into account which child needs the most help. Have the testing system implemented in the summer would have been the solution. This way each parent would understand and accept that there child needs the extra help or not. For those parents who's child scored high. Congrats . That means they will have a great year and will do good in the 1st grade. While the other children would otherwise struggle if not for the extra time. To me this is the only fair way.
Bytheweigh July 19, 2012 at 03:12 PM
FYI, this is the FIRST year in as far as I can remember, (my children are out of the system) that the testing prior to entering Kindergarten has been omitted. Also, another dynamic that has been omitted is the essential progrm Lacey has been fortunate enough to offer to incoming students, Developmental Kindergarten. Developmental Kindergarten gives those age eligible students an option to attend "Kindergarten", yet at a more pre-kindergarten level. This offers the gift of time for students who need to possibly mature socially, academically, cognitively, and physically, (motor skills). The removal of this program will certainly attribute to an added stress for the students who will be forced to comply to the ever increasing, rigorous, Kindergarten curriculum, and will subsequently add a stressor to the educators attempting to instruct numerous individuals, as an academic, whole. Basically, in my opinion, if it ain't broke, don't try and fix it.
Lonna thurman July 19, 2012 at 03:31 PM
They really did not think this through very much... I said this on the actual article, but I feel like they are experimenting on MY SON. He will be in kindergarten this year and he is my first child so I am new to this whole experience already!! What they are doing is not fair to anyone, not the children, the parents or the teachers that will have to deal with them the following year! Unless they plan on keeping them separate through 1st grade which is still not fair!! UGHHH I am getting so upset about this whole thing, I hope I am not overreacting.
beachgirl July 19, 2012 at 04:30 PM
On the flip side, what about if you have a very bright child - should they be shortchanged to full day just because they are smart? This could benefit them, too, and give them more opportunities for enrichment curriculum. In order for this to work, it has to be a random sampling of students so they can accurately measure progress.
Bytheweigh July 19, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Perhaps a public consensus on a proposed plan of eliminating testing and the Developmental program would have been a wiser choice rather than just make the final decision adminstratively. Projected decisions based on drastic changes could possibly cause more harm than good. Unfortunately, the majority of those that will suffer from this hopeful, hypothetical, educational advancement, will be the ones at the heart of the matter, the children. Change and goal oriented advancements are a welcomed aspect of a progressing school district, however, time and inclusion should have been given as to the understanding, the possible drawbacks, and the inevitable confusion it is creating amongst the entering, school aged community. Hope it works.
My Opinion Matters July 19, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Why in the world would the children who are on track and/or ahead of others have to give up their spot because there are others that are not up to par. If you're a stay at home mom, then use that time during the day to educate your child and try to bring them up to speed!!!!! There are plenty of free programs online, workbooks, flash cards, the list goes on. Don't sit there and wait for kindergarten so the teachers can do the job that you should have been doing already if you knew your child needed help. That's just a ridiculous statement that the program should just be for the children who are behind. No matter how you look at this, there are going to be complaints about something unless it is offered to everyone. The children who are picked will essentially be guinea pigs for the next year until they iron out all the kinks. They need to make better use of their money and focus on building more classrooms for the schools and hiring more teachers...period!
M Lantini July 19, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Your opinion doesn't mean some parents don't feel the same way. No one included everyone or needs your negative opinion. It is about the need of the kids. My daughter went through the half day program while my husband and I worked full time. She breezed through fairly easily being that she had been in day care for years prior. You could have done the same "Stay At Home Mom". Your child needs extra help now because you stayed home, while others paid premium dollars to have their kids in daycare, so now it is your child that needs the additional education and help? I would have been more than happy to still give my daughter an edge in education, not to compete against others, but for her own development. And you are correct, all kids need the same advantage going into 1st grade, so get a job like the rest of us or work with your kids at home.
Tammy baker July 19, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Maybe I am wrong but are we allowed to send our kids to any Lacey elementary school we have.? 5 years ago my daughter was in kindergarten at CCS. Her class size way 28. WOW. Then I heard that the other schools have class sizes of 15-18. What would happen if we stopped this practice and the kids go to their assigned school. This may elimate the large sizes and then we may be able to hold full time k for each child in each school. And since DK is gone then there is at least 1 class room open to add a class for kindergarten if we needed it and the teacher who taught DK can teach K. I wonder if that would work. Just an idea.
Bytheweigh July 20, 2012 at 01:45 AM
I agree, kids should attend their "home zoned" schools. This current practice will probaby have an abrupt end as well. However, with the deletion of the Developmental program and implementation of one piloted full day class, the remaining classes will inevitabley have higher rosters. Thank goodness Lacey incorporates aides in each class, this seems to alleviate some of the stress placed upon the teacher.

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