Dakota Taylor, a kindergartener at Fernan Elementary, writes her name on her whiteboard during class.
COEUR d'ALENE - Proposed legislation that would remove public kindergarten as an option for the majority of Idaho 5-year-olds has area school officials shaking their heads.
A bill introduced Tuesday in the Idaho Legislature's House Education Committee would eliminate two-thirds of the $50 million now appropriated in the annual budget for kindergarten, and leave $17 million to be used to prepare at-risk students to enter first grade.
Republican Rep. Steve Thayn, R-Emmett, introduced the plan, saying the state needs to decide what it's trying to accomplish with programs geared at Idaho's youngest students.
"The other two-thirds that might not attend kindergarten, what's going to happen to those kids?" said Pam Pratt, the Coeur d'Alene School District's director of elementary education and principal of the Hayden Kinder Center. "I see the gap in first grade widening between students who don't know letter naming fluency, sound naming fluency, blending and segmenting word sounds."
When I was a kid in the 70's in Spokane, there was no free kindergarten so I didn't go. But my own kids loved kindergarten and learned so much. What do you think about this proposal?