4K in Madison : Some Answers but More Questions

On Monday night, the Madison Board of Education will vote on whether to implement 4-year-old kindergarten. It has taken the Madison school district years to get to this point, and for some time it looked like 4K would not happen. Several obstacles were removed in the past year, however, and the district was able to work with community early childhood educators and with Madison Teachers, Inc., to arrive at a model that is acceptable to the district, the community, and the teachers’ union.
That’s the good news. On Monday night, there are two outstanding issues that will need to be resolved: financing for the first two years and, the start date for the first 4K cohort. I speak for myself, but believe that my board colleagues would agree that the need and value for such a program was resolved some time ago, so the issues are not whether to implement 4K, but rather the best way to proceed.
Full post at School Daze blog.

  • Phil McDade

    Lucy:
    As one closely involved with the start-up of a 4K program in my school district (Monona Grove), I’d strongly urge (said with the obvious caveat that you’re more familiar with the MMSD situation than I am) that the board wait until 2011 to start up the 4K program. This is a huge sea-change for the providers that MMSD will be working with, based on my experience in MG. I’d suggest they, and whoever on the administrative level at MMSD will be coordinating all of this (a not-to-be-underestimated task — think of this person as being in charge of a school with thousands of kids scattered around the city), need as much lead-in/ramp-up time as the board can give them.
    I would, without going overboard, suggest in the strongest manner possible that approving 4K in the next month or two for start-up this fall is an invitation to all sorts of problems. To provide some context, the MG school board approved in June 2007 a plan to move ahead with 4K beginning in the fall of 2008, and that was after nine months of meetings and planning (beginning in September 2006) that included every single provider involved in our (admittedly much smaller) 4K partnership.

  • Lucy Mathiak

    Thanks Phil. This is very helpful feedback, and reinforces what we are hearing from the provider community. It also provides some new food for thought. So, thanks for the timely response. We want to get it right.

  • Phil McDade

    Lucy:
    Those were our sentiments exactlyy — getting it done right was our first priority, moreso than getting it down quickly. Not saying MG didn’t have some hiccups along the way, but the long lead-in time was, I’m convinced, one of the main reasons our program has gotten off to a pretty good start.
    Good luck with this — students will benefit in the long run.