John Edward teaches economics at Bentley and UMass Lowell. He’s a frequent contributor of columns on economic issues. Here is his latest:
There are 310 school districts in Massachusetts. Only 12 do not offer full-day kindergarten. Chelmsford is one of the twelve.
Meanwhile, one Chelmsford Selectman is proposing a tax rebate. Most of the money would go to well-off property owners. We should reject such misplaced priorities.
In my last column I discussed how education could be the great equalizer. The key is starting at a very young age.
In Chelmsford, full-day kindergarten is only available to those who can afford a private school. For students in Chelmsford’s half-day kindergarten, parents have to pay $3,400 per school year to get just childcare coverage for the rest of the school day. Tuition for full-day kindergarten at the Montessori school is $15,100.
Chelmsford school officials would like to establish a full-day program. A feasibility committee estimated a cost of $936,000 for the first year of tuition-free full-day kindergarten. They identified funding for the first year. The School Committee voted to delay implementation because some of the money may not be sustainable.
The feasibility committee acknowledged the evidence that full-day kindergarten is good for children, schools, teachers, and parents. Among the many benefits they cited:
• Academic achievement improves.
• School systems save money due to “reduced retention and remediation rates.”
• Teachers have fewer students and more time for individual and small group instruction
• Parents save money on private school and childcare costs.
• Lower-income families have a school they can actually afford.
I would add that taxpayers benefit when all children in our community have an opportunity to achieve their full potential. Homeowners will benefit from higher property values if the town’s school system improves. Continue reading