To the Editor,

Our nonpartisan Full Day Kindergarten advocacy group continues to be amazed at the level of support from our community, local government, and statewide officials. As our advocacy leaders continue to move forward with finding a solution to educational inequity in NR and the Mirant debt relief, we must commend Senator Carlucci for his time and attention to early childhood education. We all agree that education costs money. Money is something that we can also all agree is tough to come by for today’s school districts.

North Rockland continues to stand unique given the 30-year Mirant Power Plant Lawsuit Settlement which will ultimately take over $300 million from all North Rockland students K-12. Our taxes are beyond high. We have many homes in foreclosure and the tax burden is crippling both the district and the homeowners. We the advocates have, and will continue, to find all possible solutions to improve the quality of education in North Rockland and increase the level of state aid/ debt relief from Mirant. We can not continue to pay $11.5 million dollars annually to Mirant.

All teachers agree that time is important to teach quality learning. It takes time to help a child understand in depth knowledge on a given topic. The Common Core learning standards are rigorous for children. Common Core has shifted a majority of learning standards from recall to deep understanding. The jobs our future children will hold or seek to hold will be on deep understanding. The world is changing before our eyes. We may not agree with the demands of the standards or the expectations of young children today. However, the facts still remain, children beginning in kindergarten are expected to conquer Common Core. We must stop citing how half day kindergarten was fine when we went to school in the 1980s, 90s, or even early 2000s. We have moved beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic. We must realize the world has changed, and our children deserve a fair start. In 2016, kindergarten needs to be viewed as a core instructional program.

The North Rockland Full Day Kindergarten Advocates continue to face challenges in the community. Some people have asked, “Why should I have to pay for your childcare?” or “Why would a 5-year-old need so many hours of instruction?” Our group continues to trek forward because our voice is far from a child care concern. Our voice is a reflection of educational inequity. We are not seeking an increase in taxes. We are not looking to cut teachers/support staff or cut programs. We are seeking increase in state aid. While the other Rockland County school districts continue to compete with 99 percent of NYS, our children are left behind with the other eight half-day districts. It is time for a change.

Senator Carlucci’s proposed bill is a unique approach to funding kindergarten in NYS via unclaimed lotto funds. We thank Senator Carlucci for his voice. My family has been in North Rockland since the year 1642. We are rooted deeply here. We will continue to work to improve North Rockland. My children deserve the same quality education I received, and the generations before. With the recent support of NYSUT, NYS PTA, and local government support we will all hold hands to lead this forward. We can not continue to be the 1 percent in NYS with a half day kindergarten program. We are understanding to the Mirant tax debt constraint, but also devoted to finding a solution. We will strive for increased state aid from Albany.

We encourage the community to our advocacy group with a concern, comment, question, or just a simply voice. Please consider joining our facebook group or our upcoming rally day in Albany on February 29. Please email us at nrfulldayk@gmail.com. Please also consider viewing our website at www.nrfulldayk.org.

Jen Teichmann
North Rockland Full Day-K advocate

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