When I moved into the district I am currently in I knew that they had a half day Kindergarten program. People asked me how I could move to a district that didn’t have a full day program when so many do, and my answer to them was that “I was thankful to have my little boy home with me for the second half of the day. ” Fast forward to the point where I learned that every other school was in the process of converting to FDK, or at least was pushing for it on their budgets and our school wasn’t. Fast forward to when someone on facebook said “hey maybe we should start a petition to get people’s support for FDK”, and to my answer of “Hey, I can start the petition, and why don’t we also start a facebook page”. That my friends is how it all began. That is how I got caught up in what would be a whirlwind of an experience. That is how I began fighting the good fight for Full-Day Kindergarten.
I never could’ve guessed what starting that Full Day Kindergarten petition and Fair Start facebook page would do. The momentum was amazing. With in a week I was having meetings at my house with those in favor and speaking with some pretty important people in the district. I had no idea who the players were, or even the process of making it all become a reality but I was in it. My kid isn’t even in the school system yet and I’m finding myself speaking at BOE meetings and becoming a member of a district committee to research if FDK was a necessity to our school. I certainly was way out of my league!
Soon our district became THE LAST district on Long Island to not have a full day program, and became one of the last schools in the state. 98.7% of all NYS schools have a full day program, but my son was at risk for not getting the same education. I became angry. I never believed I would have to fight so hard for something that pretty much every child in my state is getting. I was the mom who was happy to have my child home, but began struggling with all the information put before me that with common core a half day program just leaves our kids with less. I learned that they got no recess and no lunch. I learned information was crammed into as much time as was allotted, and that teachers were doing their best but struggling to fit it all in. I did research on the committee that taught me that our children deserve a developmentally appropriate program and that doing it all in a half day just doesn’t cut it. It just wasn’t enough anymore.
So I partnered up with some great people and began to really fight the good fight. The committee did a TON of great research and came to the conclusion that Full Day Kindergarten WAS what our school needed, but that is where we hit a bit of a wall. The HOW in the implementation process has brought us to where we are today. HOW will the school pay for it? I am of the belief that FDK is a must no matter what, but like everything in this world there are politics behind the scenes. There is SO much that goes on that people don’t even realize to make something happen. It’s both thrilling and maddening.
I feel like we are making headway. I feel like as we find ourselves coming to the finish line that we are in fact making a difference. Our little group is making noise, and I am beginning to see possible light at the end of the tunnel. Dare I say we can win?
I always wanted to get involved in my kids school, but I never could have imagined I would have fast tracked that and began even BEFORE my son started Kindergarten. I’m sure those that know me aren’t surprised, but I kind of am. I am learning a lot along the way, and am happy to get to know the in’s and out’s of our district. I’m kind of thankful for the lesson. What I am most thankful for though is the people I am working with. They truly are some amazing and hard working people.
So we are moving forward into budget season and laying all our cards on the table. There is no time to sit back and HOPE that it happens. We are writing to our representatives to urge them to give our district back the GEA money that’s rightfully ours, and we are imploring our BOE and administration to see FDK as a top priority no matter what happens. We are rallying our Fair Start troops to not settle. It’s an uphill battle but we are in it 100%.
Full- Day Kindergarten in 2016 is a MUST!