"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Friday, January 7, 2011

January 10 at 3:15: Special Separate 4K Discussion at Levi Leonard Elementary in Room 105

Click on the post to see the agenda describing a separate 4K discussion on Monday January 10 at 3:15 pm in Room 105 at Levi Leonard Elementary School. I'm pretty sure this was a very recent addition to the school website. I don't remember seeing it Wednesday or the wee hours of this am. Hmm. Kelly gave me a heads up on this since the school has to notify the paper. I'll be there and will report on it next week or the week after in the Review. I'm guessing that the board decided that a separate time would be needed for the 4K discussion to keep the duration of the board meeting to a reasonable semblance of normal. I need to call the district for background after I read the 105 page packet I printed out today. I am not a digital child. I need to scribble and take notes on my copies of things in order to fully digest the information. Our kids are full on digital natives, but I am clearly a stranger in a strange land when it comes to the digital revolution. Hopefully, they will not ask for our heads on a silver platter for killing all those trees.


Anonymous said...

I am glad they told you, but by law they also have to post it. So how are they going to do that?

Katy said...

It is on the school website, physically posted at various locations around town which are designated as official posting places like the library, the schools and even the office of the Review. This meets the posting requirements of the open records law.

Tma said...

I am frustrated, but not at all surprised, by the lack of notification on this school board meeting. Yes, the school board posted it legally, but no, they didn't really post it so that the public was really aware of the meeting - much like their meeting agendas NEVER seem to make the Review before it goes to print.
I am also frustrated by the meeting time and place - no actually, I am frustrated by the manipulation of the District Administrator to "stack the deck" or hold the meetings at a time and place that will give the edge to her point of view. Elementary school teachers are going to be in the building, and are probably going to be encouraged to attend - and of course, these teachers are going to say that children who attend 4K will perform better on their tests and be "easier" to teach - especially with their boss breathing down their backs.
It will be very interesting to see what happens if Sen. Grothman has his way.
Think your Evansville School District taxes have gone up too much this year? Wait until they add 4K. You'll be paying childcare expenses for every kid in the district until you retire.

Katy said...

The topic of 4K has reared its head again in Evansville because a group of citizens petitioned the board to revisit the topic once again. Since it was last addressed in 2006, there is a new batch of 4 year olds whose parents wish to have this service for their children. To be fair, the district is only doing due diligence to address the topic again. The more modern model of delivering 4K incorporates more of a community based model than the older school based only model. Looking at the subject doesn't guarantee the district will offer it. Financing for start-up costs would be problematic at this time, even though the program becomes self-sustaining after three years. The crux of the matter will be how or even if 4K will continue to be financed similarly in the new administration. That is a big unknown variable and the School Board understands this.

If you read the packet on the school website, you will be able to see that implicit in the desire to offer universal 4K is the wish to provide standardized pre-school to all walks of life "regardless of income." A concern expressed in the DPI literature is that models such as Head Start, while extremely successful, spotlight a child's economic disadvantage. A big rationale for providing universal 4K is to remove the stigma by providing it for everyone. While a noble goal, the district cannot afford it at this time.

Katy said...

As for the poor posting by the district, any citizen may access agendas or packets on the school website by accessing "School Board" then "School Board Meetings" and clicking on the blue highlighted agenda of choice. Physical posting is also available in specific areas around town. Citizens need to be proactive to be informed. Nobody ever said democracy was easy. The district has only recently begun offering packets on the website and this is a big step in open communication. While the time and location of the 4K meeting is certainly inconvenient for most working folk, I really think the separate discussion section was intended to give enough time to a very controversial topic without detracting from the January Business Board meeting.

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous. 3:15 in the afternoon? That smells like someone is just trying to limit how many people actually show to oppose or voice their concern about this.

The board has addressed many heated issues in the past and never set a separate time or place to 'discuss' them.

Example the Pom issue. That issue stayed right where it should have during the regular board meeting, regular time.

What is a board meeting for but if not to discuss the issues on the agenda during a regular meeting.

IT is very questionable what someone is trying to do.

As long as Scott Walker is office the school best think long and hard before making any un necessary program changes. That and Senator Grothman.

But as you pointed out , and we know there is no money.

Get Head Start back in town if they are so concerned about needing pre school for those who can not afford it.

Some one please tell me again why they got booted from the school? It was a perfect place from them.


Katy said...

I know this smacks of conspiracy, but I don't really think there is one. We routinely discussed the possibility of separating high profile topics into discussion groups at different times than the regular board meeting so everybody would get a chance to talk way back when I was a board member. The alternative may be to severly limit the time allowed for each person to talk, which would go over like a lead balloon. I realize this timing is terrible and I don't know why it was done. I can't be positive the posting was done on Friday on the website. It could have been Tuesday and I simply missed it. But 24 hours is the statute, I believe. It's just because our official paper is a weekly that this becomes problematic. The website qualifies as official public notice as well. I will plead with everybody to remain calm until action is taken on this topic. It's still in the discussion stage. The board may be experiencing growing pains, but they know as well as the next guy the writing on the political wall. I know a 3:15 meeting is inconvenient at best for most people. Hell, I don't have a regular job and I'm ticked off about it. When the heck am I supposed to eat supper, or feed my kids? But I will carry on and report on the outcome.

I do encourage all of my readers to go on the school website http://www.ecsdnet.org/ and read the 4K materials they have provided in the board packet from the DPI. The data won't likely change your mind, but it's food for thought and, if nothing else, will illustrate to you the completely mind boggling nature of something as simple as funding streams for preschoolers. I'm pretty sure over half of the 105 page board packet is 4K funding alone. It's mindnumbingly boring to read all of the statutes and agencies associated with it, but still shows how complex it has become in the hands of bureaucrats.

Katy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

Sorry, but this does look bad, and seems very obvious that the meeting was held at a specific time for a specific demographic. Not just teachers, but stay home parents that would be more incline to vote for 4K (generalization). We don’t have the money now, what makes you think we will have it then? We are already the 68th highest tax rate in the state for our schools (out of 426 districts). We are going to tax people out of the district, then where will we be on money/ projects?

Cathy Smith said...

I'm against the general idea of 4K. The costs are high enough and all of us are feeling the pinch. I think our tax dollars, and our district children, would be better served by target programs rather than blanket programs.
Also, until Doyle's proclamation that K become mandatory, a lot of 5 year olds (esp. boys) were able to stay home that extra year. As an advocate for personal liberties, I fear that 4K will set a precedent for 4 year old public education becoming mandatory. I do not want the state mandating that I must offer up my child to the school system at forever a younger age.
I have deposited my child in the public school hoping that my teachings have prepared them. I wish schools would help educate us parents saying " This is what your child should know before Kindergarten." While I would hope that my parenting has prepared my child for most instances, there are issues where I have fallen flat and my kiddo has struggled to make p the difference.
So, I am rather torn. No 4K, but I do want some help on how to prepare my child, by my own self and home.

Katy said...

To Mike: The previous 2006 4K discussion showed that those speaking against 4K in the community were predominantly stay-at-home parents who felt the implementation of universal 4K would result in the same ultimate result Cathy Smith (Jan. 13 comment)expresses concern for. 5K was previously "voluntary" in Wisconsin and this was removed last year. What if 4K goes the same route? In addition, it is true that we are a very highly taxed district while we pay our high school debt off. The timing for this resurrection of the 4K implementation in Evansville is once again unfortunate.

To Kathy: Your comment eloquently states my own position. Prior to my own school board tenure, I brought these same arguments to the board with little results. It was clear at the time that the income restrictions for Head Start were draconian and excluded many children who would benefit from this great program. Evansville has since lost its Head Start and is seeing higher and higher students in economic distress, a double whammy if ever there was one.

Targeted programs would be the most financially feasible, but the perceived stigma associated with participation in such targeted programs seems to remain. Proponents for universal 4K believe it would provide life skills necessary for 5K while removing the social stigma of participating in a program that serves the economically disadvantaged. I'm not sure from whom this idea of stigmatization eminates, those who wish to provide or those for whom such programs are provided. Then there is the lingering idea that the parents, by some poor choices, have landed themselves in poverty and in some way must atone for this. Sadly, those who feel that way need to remember that the ones who are punished by this stance, the children, had nothing to do with those poor past choices and need to start somehow with a clean slate in life. And what is the statute of limitations for these parents' poor past choices? Our culture seems to be struggling between these two opposing viewpoints.

Mike said...

That is why I said “generalization”, you know and I know that perception is reality. And the biggest argument /perception is that 4k is a community funded day care that the tax payer’s do not wish fund, so I stand by my concerns for the timing of this discussion. Studies on statewide (Michigan, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Arkansas, and New Mexico) funded 4k shows that the demographic that benefitted the most are students that come from low-income families. While I think it is important to provide a good education for our community, there is only so much money to go around and the people who are not low-income should not be forced to pay for everything for everybody. Our state currently ranks 41st among state government debt, (meaning only 9 other states have more debt than us) of the states in the studies I mentioned previously with the exception of Arkansas (20th) all rank 33rd and higher with New jersey being the worst at 46th. We do not need to follow poor government spending choices made by those states (among other choices) and it all starts with the communities and what we are doing with our money, if a large amount of the communities support or do not support certain programs the state will follow (for the most part). The last election showed what the results are if the current government basically tells the public, “I know what’s best for you, just be quite and take your medicine”. The answer was, "he's your pink slip Conress Person".
The average home value went DOWN this year, and our school tax went UP, doesn’t make economical sense. In a perfect world we could afford everything for everyone. BUT we are not in a perfect world; we must live within our means. Bottom line is we cannot spend money we do not have.

Katy said...

I took a strong stance against 4K in 2006. We had Head Start in Evansville at that time and the timing clearly indicated that the administration planned to fund it with the increased enrollment realized by gutting the half-day 5K program.

The lay of the land has changed and I would like to think my blog is capable of educating my readers and myself. With no Headstart, those in poverty have no pre-school choices in town. Kindergarten teachers notice a large change in this group in "life skills" and other pre-school provisions.

It is worthy of note that enrolling your child in 4K typically does not reduce your day care bill one iota. Day care charges are the same whether your kid goes 6.5 or 9 hours. It's just the way the costs fall with day care. So attending school 2.5 hours a day four days a week will not reduce anyone's day care charges. The true savings in day care came when 5K went from half-day to full day. Parents pushed hard for this exactly because they saved on day care expenses. This in turn caused local day cares to lose business.

I'd like to be more positive about 4K, but I still disagree with the premise that poor people are unable to provide enriching pre-school experiences for their kids. This is a very insulting stance. I think they are often too exhausted to worry about this aspect of their child's education, but the overall impression is that many people think them incapable. I also believe that the data on which the entire 4K program is predicated is old and has not been replaced with unbiased, modern, useful conclusions. At least 2 conclusions can be drawn from this. Either nobody can design an experiment that can tell us that information or the data is already available and not positive. Since Milwaukee has had 4K for over 20 years, my impression of it as a useful educational tool is less than stellar. Finally, and most fundamentally, there is no money to implement such a program at this time AND the political implications are enormous. Again, ECSD suffers terrible timing on the issue.

Mike said...

It’s good to hear that you recognize that there is a problem with impoverished children; however throwing money at an unproven program during these economic times is not the responsible thing to do. I think it is notable to point out your observation on not paying less for day care if your child goes to 4k. Actually, the property owners pay MORE. Meaning, we will have to pay for 4k through taxes, and daycare. I do advocate helping people that are less fortunate; however there is a breaking point where the amount of money we are putting in is beyond our limitations and you have obviously recognized that and I applaud you for it, you can count on my vote.

Katy said...

I am not running for office this year. Maybe next year. I love my new gig as School Board reporter, even though it cuts into what I would like to discuss on my blog. There are plenty of educational issues in the district to go around, though. Thank you for your kind words, however.