It’s time for the Legislature to fund all-day kindergarten

There's a chance the Crook County School District will become a model for the rest of Oregon after this next legislative session.
   That's because Gov. Ted Kulongoski is proposing to expand full-day kindergarten in the next legislative session. Crook County has had full-day kindergarten for five years, and we hope this experiment will be tried throughout Oregon. The only other school district in Oregon to have full-day kindergarten without charging extra tuition and fees is the David Douglas District in Portland.
   We hope Kulongoski is successful for several reasons.
   According to research from across the nation, students who have full-day kindergarten tend to do better in school socially and academically. That's been the case here in the Crook County School District, although there are several reasons for improved student success. Some of that is better curriculum and better state test scores. Some of it may be the new teacher mentoring program the district has in place, which pairs veteran teachers with new teachers.
   There's also a philosophical question for Crook County residents and other Oregonians to ask themselves. Is it better to spend more money early on for education and prevention, or is it better to build more prisons and jails?
   Superintendent Steve Swisher said children ages 4 to 8 are in a critically important period to get them started in the right direction in school.
   Funding for education will be a continuing critical piece of Kulongoski's second term. And although we have said certain savings could be implemented in state funding, we hope he works closely with Democrats and Republicans to provide a better education for all of Oregon's children. All-day kindergarten is part of the pie.
   "I strongly support all-day kindergarten programs and early childhood programs that begin at about age 4," Swisher said. "It seems like a better bargain to invest here than in prisons later."
   We agree.
   It's time for the Oregon Legislature to fully fund all-day kindergarten. Our children's academic and social well-being is at stake.