As Arizona’s next superintendent of public instruction, I want to be the champion for all students, at the highest level of curriculum possible, and I want to start not at the top, but at the bottom with our youngest and most vulnerable students.
That’s why I support expanding voluntary full-day kindergarten to Arizona’s neediest students. It’s a great first step in making kindergarten in Arizona the full-day grade it should be.
As a high-school teacher for almost two decades, I have and continue to see an enormous gap in the capabilities of my students. Some come through the door reading and writing fluently. Others are still sounding out words letter-by-letter with no ability to blend the sounds into words, the words into sentences, and sentences into coherent thoughts.
The problem, too often, is a lack of the true kindergarten experience, the enrichment it brings into their lives, and the critical role it plays to create early fluent readers. Without a better structure, our kids are suffering. The basic reading tasks that most of us take for granted become their impossible dream.