Paid Kindergarten | Editorial | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Coverage for Central Oregon, by Central Oregonians.
100% Local. No Paywalls.

Every day, the Source publishes a mix of locally reported stories on our website, keeping you up to date on developments in news, food, music and the arts. We’re committed to covering this city where we live, this city that we love, and we hear regularly from readers who appreciate our ability to put breaking news in context.

The Source has been a free publication for its 22 years. It has been free as a print version and continued that way when we began to publish online, on social media and through our newsletters.

But, as most of our readers know, times are different for local journalism. Tech giants are hoovering up small businesses and small-business advertising—which has been the staple for locally owned media. Without these resources, journalism struggles to bring coverage of community news, arts and entertainment that social media cannot deliver.

Please consider becoming a supporter of locally owned journalism through our Source Insider program. Learn more about our program’s benefits by clicking through today.

Support Us Here

Opinion » Editorial

Paid Kindergarten

Imagine a public school system in which parents have to pay extra if they want their kids to have up-to-date textbooks instead of 20-year-old ones.



Imagine a public school system in which parents have to pay extra if they want their kids to have up-to-date textbooks instead of 20-year-old ones. Or if they want them to learn algebra and geometry instead of stopping with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

It sounds ridiculous - and it would be. But philosophically speaking, the practice of making parents pay tuition if they want their children to have all-day kindergarten isn't any different.

The State of Oregon provides funds to let all public schools offer a half-day of kindergarten. Back in 2004, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo ruled that it was okay for schools to offer a full day of kindergarten for kids whose parents were willing to pay for it. A bunch of schools throughout the state, including several in the Bend-LaPine District, took that option. But recent legal opinions ruled - correctly, in our view - that such a practice was inequitable and unlawful, and the paid kindergarten programs were suspended.

Now there's a move afoot among state lawmakers to bring them back. Sen. Vicki Walker (D-Eugene), chair of the Education and General Government Committee, reportedly has given her blessing to proposed legislation that would make paid kindergarten programs legal. Such a measure is likely to be taken up by Walker's committee when the legislature reconvenes for its emergency session next month.

Advocates of the paid-kindergarten policy argue that it doesn't hurt anybody: The kids whose parents can't afford to pay for a full day still get half a day. But that argument overlooks the whole issue of inequality.

Reams of research have shown that early childhood education is important to the success of children in their later school years. Children who receive less early childhood education will be inherently disadvantaged vis--vis other children who receive more. To add to the injustice, kids whose parents don't have the money to pay for all-day kindergarten are precisely the ones who are likely to need it the most.

Children from low-income families are eligible for the Head Start program. But Head Start is unable to enroll more than a fraction of eligible children, and it doesn't take those who have reached kindergarten age.

Of course inequality is a fact of life, in education as in pretty much everything else. Kids whose parents buy them books and laptop computers, send them to sports or science camps, enroll them in music and dancing and foreign language classes and hire special tutors will have the edge over their counterparts who don't get those extras. But the goal of public education is supposed to be to reduce inequality, not increase it - to make the playing field a bit more level, not tilt it even further.

Instead of looking for a way to make paid kindergarten legal, Oregon legislators should be finding a way to make all-day kindergarten available to all children. The paid kindergarten approach is an evasion of our public education system's true responsibility. We're giving it THE BOOT, and we hope the legislature will too.

Speaking of The Boot

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

Add a comment

More by H. Bruce Miller

  • Who is John Galt? Who Gives a Crap?: Atlas Shrugged's tea party flops hard

    Members of the Ayn Rand cult have waited 54 years for a movie version of her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. They finally have one that's true to the letter and spirit of the book. And that's the problem.
    • May 11, 2011
  • LandWatch Goes to the Mattresses Over Resorts

    The fight over Deschutes County's new destination resort rules isn't finished yet: Central Oregon LandWatch has put the county on notice that it plans to challenge them. LandWatch filed ìnotices of intent to appealî Thursday with the state Land Use Board of Appeals, charging that the county's new rules for determining what lands are eligible for resorts ìactually increase the development potential in the county.
    • Aug 23, 2010
  • Waste and Fraud: Walden Goes After the Big Game

    Eastern Oregon's own Rep. Greg Walden and a couple of other Republican congressmen have unleashed their righteous wrath on a federal program that helps low-income folks heat their homes.
    • Jul 2, 2010
  • More »