Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Ralph Caputo, Troy Singleton, Pamela Lampitt and Paul Moriarty to study the merits of implementing full-day kindergarten in New Jersey schools was approved Monday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-1016) would establish a 22-member task force to study and evaluate issues associated with the establishment and implementation of full-day kindergarten.
"A full day of kindergarten instruction has been shown to help students not just academically, but socially," said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). "These early years are critical. Full-day kindergarten has the potential to lower grade retention and dropout rates for students later in life. We owe it to our students to study the merits and feasibility of implementing full-day kindergarten in our schools."
"The benefits of full-day kindergarten are well-documented. Studies show higher academic achievement and greater academic equity, among other benefits," said Caputo (D-Essex). "It behooves us to look into whether full-day kindergarten could work in New Jersey."
"Full-day kindergarten can help build a solid educational foundation for children," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "It can help make the transition to first grade smoother for students, aid in socialization, help develop stronger learning skills and lead to higher academic achievements in later grades. Given the potential benefits, it would be irresponsible to not even consider it."
"Full-day kindergarten has proven especially beneficial for children from low-income families. There are already too many achievement gaps that unfairly disadvantage some students," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "If full-day kindergarten has the potential to enhance learning and create a more equitable academic experience for our students, then we should explore the possibility."
"The educational foundation we build for our children often determines their future academic outcomes," said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). "Research shows that full-day kindergarten can help boost academic achievement, and enhance social, emotional and behavioral development. This is more than enough reason to look into whether this is an investment worth making."
The task force would be comprised of: the Commissioner of Education; one public member appointed by the president of the Senate; one public member appointed by the minority leader of the Senate; one public member appointed by the speaker of the General Assembly; one public member appointed by the minority leader of the General Assembly; and 17 members appointed by the governor, including three superintendents of schools, two elementary school principals, two kindergarten teachers, one member recommended by the New Jersey Child Care Association, one member recommended by the New Jersey Education Association, one member recommended by the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, one member recommended by the New Jersey School Boards Association, one member recommended by the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, one member recommended by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, one member recommended by the Garden State Coalition of Schools, and three members of the public, at least one of whom will be a parent. Public members appointed to the task force would have to have expertise related to the work of the task force.
The task force would study and consider issues including, but not limited to:
- review of existing research, studies, and data concerning full-day kindergarten, including studies that examine the long-term academic impact and the social and emotional impact of full-day kindergarten;
- implementation issues associated with full-day kindergarten, including but not limited to, staffing needs, facility space, and class size;
- funding needed for full-day kindergarten, including sources of funding;
- curriculum comparisons between full-day kindergarten and half-day kindergarten;
- opinions and recommendations of parents and elementary school teachers regarding full-day kindergarten; and
- the feasibility of offering full-day kindergarten in school districts Statewide.
The task force would be required to issue a final report to the governor and the Legislature within one year of its organization, containing the task force's findings and recommendations regarding the establishment of full-day kindergarten.
The bill was released by the Assembly Education Committee.