Competing for kindergarteners

To compete with charter schools, Arizona schools are offering full-day kindergarten, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

For Arizona’s traditional public schools, the offer of full-day kindergarten represents a preemptive-strike opportunity: Hook parents before they opt for a charter school.

That’s not the overt motive, of course. All-day kindergarten has been on the rise nationwide, driven by a growing focus on the academic benefits of early education. But a plethora of marketing tools send a clear promotional signal: slick videos, websites, movie-trailer ads, a cable-access television show, and even a two-week “kindergarten academy.”

“Parents have [more] choices,” says Harriet Scarborough, Tucson Unified’s senior officer for professional development and academics.

Public schools can learn to compete if they have to.

About Joanne


  1. Huzzah for full-day kindergarten. I must’ve been 18 before I realized that there were K-halfies. And really, I think I was a lot more balanced and developed more quickly because of it.

  2. My first thought was confirmed by the first line of the article:
       &nbspIt’s a working parent’s dream – kindergartens competing to take your children off your hands all day, and the promise that they’ll learn something, too.

    ‘Free’ day care!

    It’s my understanding that programs such as Head Start only show significant value for kids from really crummy home situations. Is there evidence to support the assertion of value in all-day kindergarten for all, or is some of the growing focus on the academic benefits of early education an opportunity to increase the Total Available Market?

  3. Extended playtime and daycare? Crappy.

    I may be inventing this connection, but in attempt to find out why people in my classes [both teaching them and being in them] balked at 3 hour seminars, I asked who had 1/2 day K and who had full day. The complainers were overwhelmingly graduates of a 1/2 day K, while full-dayers didn’t seem to mind as much and functioned at a more constant level. I’m not saying they succeeded because of full day K, but it might be a tiny shred of evidence that there can be some value in all-day stuff for kiddies.


  4. Mr. Davis says:

    I’d prefer to have them compete with education instead of day care. I would not see offering all day nursrey school as an advance, etiher.

  5. I desperately wanted a half-day kindergarten program but was unable to find them in my area. After lunch, nap, and recess, the second half of the day instruction time was a mere hour or two. Full day is merely day care.

  6. Is there no concern for the instructional dollars being spent on marketing?

    If the “good” that competition is supposed to bring is what is cited in the CSMonitor report (1 principal split between two schools, fewer teachers, larger class sizes, etc) then I just don’t get it.

  7. I’m sure there’s the most careful sort of concern is given to each dollar being spent on marketing. After all, dollars spent on marketing aren’t available for other purposes. It makes one focus.

    Should we spend a dollar on a marketing campaign or on hiring more teachers? Or hiring more administrators?

    How about books? Exciting, new and expensive versus boring, old and cheap.

    Can we produce the results parents are looking for by not going with an expensive, untried but exciting, new educational system that has visions of sugar plums dancing in the heads of ed school profs from coast to coast?

    What are the results that parents value? How can we provide those results and let parents know we’re providing those results and stay within our budget?

    Just one question after another and every one of them freighted with possibilities for extinction or acclaim.

    Now do you understand the “good” that competition is supposed to bring?