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“Do it Fir da kidz” :NJEA Endorses Bob Menendez for U.S. Senate

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file photo by Boyd Loving at Ridgewood Train Station

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Union NJ , pay back time ,as schools around New Jersey prepare to open for the new year, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez was surrounded today by dozens of teachers and educational support professionals to proudly accept the endorsement of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the state’s largest teachers union. The announcement was made at Jefferson Elementary in the Vauxhall section of Union.

Continue reading “Do it Fir da kidz” :NJEA Endorses Bob Menendez for U.S. Senate

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Guest Editorial in favor of full day kindergarten

yes to Full day Kindergarten
I am completely in support of Ridgewood finally moving to All-Day Kindergarten.  It is an embarrassment that we do not have it yet.  Are we the only town left with half-day K?  If you look online, the internet explodes with studies supporting the extended day.  Let’s face it, if a child gets to kindergarten at 8:30, then coats are hung up and everyone settles in for morning circle time on the rug….by the time they get down to any actual learning it might be 9:00.  Add to that art, recess, snack, all wholly worthwhile activities but time-consuming nonetheless, and all of a sudden it is time for pick-up from school.  Meanwhile in every town surrounding us, in fact probably most towns in the entire country, the 5 and 6 year olds are getting three more hours a day.  This means that they get the socialization, the art, music, snack, recess and so on…..but they also get significant time to learn some basics of reading, writing, and “rithmetic.” 

Parents who want their children home for the afternoon (or morning) instead of having them at school for 3 extra hours protest that the time with family (mom?, nanny? younger siblings?) is of more value than the time in school.  Really?  I am going out on a limb here, but not much of a limb, in wagering that many of those kids are spending some of that time on an ipad, or watching mommy (or nanny) texting to God-knows-who.  Or maybe they are being rushed right from kindergarten to karate or ballet.  Staying at school would not be a bad alternative; far from it, staying at school would be infinitely preferable. 

Non-parents who argue that those in favor just want free day care are living in another universe.  For parents who work, full-day K does not include sufficient hours to occupy their children while they are on the job.  Not even close.

Those who protest that children need more unscheduled time are using a half-baked argument.  I am a big fan of down-time, but most kids of that age are up and awake for 13 or 14 hours a day.  Surely adding a half-day more of school for the 180 days a year that they go to school would not preclude plenty of down-time.

The cost?  Well, I for one would rather have my tax money going to the children, the future, than having it go to some of the ridiculous projects that have come up in recent years in Ridgewood.  This would be money well spent.

Come on Ridgewood, let’s vote YES for all-day-K, and catch up with the rest of the country.  Do it for the kids!

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Ridgewood the great debate ;Full-day vs Half-day Kindergarten: “do it fir da kidz”

Little_Rascals
October 5,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Ridgewood now joins the great debate ;Full-day vs Half-day Kindergarten. Lets face it in the Village we have many parents who seem very pro-full day because it saves money on day care . We also have another group that believes it better prepares children to acquire basic skills for learning  . Still others like the teachers union see it as job producing and more yet want to give their kids a leg up on global competition.

The detractors feel its nothing more than additional baby sitting ,that the results do not really justify the extra time ; that kids need time to be kids, and parents should act like parents . Some feel that too much control is given to the schools and that one sided points of views will be pushed even further stunting creativity and intellectual curiosity .

But first lets take a look at the history ,Kindergarten dates all the way back to the 1800s when it began as a full-day program.Half-day Kindergarten actually began during WWII when schools across the country began to cut their kindergarten classes back to a half-day in order to free up additional labor.

Full-day kindergarten reappeared in the 1960s as an intervention to help disadvantaged children catch up to their peers through additional schooling. But, now it has gained popularity among middle class two income families. Over the past 30 years, where the percentage of children in full-day programs has grown from 10% to just over half of U.S. kindergartners.

The rationale for full-day kindergarten has been and continues to be that the more time children spend in school, the more they will learn. Detractors however have warned that an early emphasis on academic learning, at the expense of play time, could harm children emotionally and academically in the long run.

Lets face it we constantly hear how “Millennials ” are the most over educated and under performing generation. Spending there days watching reality TV ,playing video games and questioning why they have to work at all. They are buried under a pile of student loans with degrees in under water basket weaving .So it would seem at lest for Millennials”  more time in school has not worked at all.

This all brings us back to the quality over quantity argument  and clearly for many “Millennials ”   its been as the saying goes ;garbage in ,garbage out.

While many studies show academic gains for full day Kindergarten can be fleeting , others show significant gains for disadvantaged children particularly ,’English is a second language  types .

A new study from Chloe R. Gibbs at the University of Virginia holds some preliminary good news for proponents of full-day kindergarten.Though the implications of the study won’t be clear until the students studied are much older. The Gibbs study showed most notably, the advantage for Hispanic full-day students over other Hispanic kindergartners is nearly twice that seen in the overall sample.

Other studies have suggested that children in full-day programs scored higher in reading and math than their half-day counterparts at the end of kindergarten, those gains had evaporated by the end of 1st grade, the researcher reports. This was true for both girls and boys and black and Hispanic children. In fact, Hispanic children who attended full-day kindergarten programs performed worse at the end of 1st grade than children who attended half-day kindergarten.

An interesting note in the Gibbs study and this very much applies to Ridgewood ; Because full-day kindergarten classes have long been used as a way to give high-need students an extra boost, full-day students have historically been comparatively disadvantaged. As a result, any difference in the groups’ outcomes may be due to full-day kindergarten or may be caused by other differences in their lives outside the classroom — such as disparities in access to learning opportunities and academic support at home — typically associated with living in poverty.

Which gets to the heart of our point in a Village like Ridgewood with a huge diversity of opportunities for learning ,friends, doing ,playing and experiencing . Our fear is the full-day kindergarten will actually decrease the diversity of opportunities for some people and again that one sided points of views will be pushed even further stunting creativity and intellectual curiosity .

We have no way of knowing, unfortunately only time will tell , but as many promoters of school budgets in that past have issued the battle cry ; “do it fir da kidz”. So what ever you decide on November 8th the decision should be should be made based on whats best for your kids or your grand childern. You know your kids better than anyone and they probably need you more than you think .

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Reader says ,”Get rid of the fat and focus on the mission of educating”

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The problem is not paying the teachers, the problem is that our Board of Ed treats the teacher salaries as a lower priority.  We should pay talent and retain talent.  That is the heart of any great business, especially educational businesses.

The start of the solution is getting rid of the 35 people in that building on Franklin Ave.  We have far too many administrators each of whom just creates the need for more administration, more secretaries and keep teachers from teaching kids.  If the kids in Orchard and Somerville learn a little bit different stuff in math–WHO CARES?  It will work out.  They will be close enough by the time they get to HS. Use a simple curriculum outline and let the teachers teach.

Also, its enough with the bells and whistles. Make a decision about whether you want new text books or lap tops.  You can read on a computer so you really should pick one or the other.  Use the laptop and an older text book. They will get what they need.

We dont need rock climbing walls and the insurance that goes with them.  Let them play dodge ball.  What about considering the real costs of having Football–insurance, equipment, staff, etc.  Get rid of the fat and focus on the mission of educating kids.  To me it is simple, pay the teachers and let them teach.