FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2008
Grothman Calls for Immediate Cessation of New Funding of 4-Year Old Kindergarten
No Time to Expand Academically Dubious Program
Today, Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) called for immediate action by the State Legislature to stop funding for new 4-year old kindergarten (4K) programs. Due to a state aid formula that allows districts to use as much revenue-cap authority for an inexpensive 4-year old as for a more expensive high school student, districts in recent years have been adding 4K. For example, it may cost $6,000 a year to teach a 4-year old student but $11,000 to teach a high school student. The state will allow an additional $9,000 in spending for each.
Department of Public Instruction figures show approximately 25 new districts adding 4K each year at an additional cost to the state of $10 million and an additional cost to property tax payers of $5 million per year. In addition the budget provided a new $3 million categorical aid encouraging districts to adopt the program next year.
“At a time when the State of Wisconsin is looking at a $650 million shortfall, it is inexcusable to raise taxes or transfer any segregated funds to put $13 million into new programs that were not there a year ago,” said Grothman.
These programs have been added not for academic purposes but for financial purposes. Studies by such authors as Darcy Olsen1 and Lisa Snell2 have shown what people with common sense have always known. You can teach someone to read when they are 4 years old or 6 years old but by the time they are 8 years old, the children are reading at the same level. American children do very well on international tests in the 4th grade illustrating that early childhood is not where the United States is falling behind. Our problems are at the middle school and high school levels.
“The Legislature and Governor Doyle had lots of fun spending lots of money in the November budget now is the time to tell the people of the state about the fiscal crisis we are in and act responsibly,” said Grothman. “If the State Legislature really wanted to act responsibly, they would de-fund 4K programs entirely and save the taxpayers $96 million.”
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1 Darcy Olsen, President and CEO, Goldwater Institute www.goldwaterinstitute.org/aboutus/StaffView.aspx?id=1
2 Lisa Snell, Director of Education and Child Welfare, Reason Foundation www.reason.org/snell.html