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Ybarra Supports Full-Time Kindergarten, But Says It Shouldn't Be Mandatory

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Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra
  • Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra


Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra says she supports a State Board of Education recommendation to make full-time kindergarten an option in Idaho, but she still doesn't think it should be mandatory.

The proposal to fund the kindergarten option would require approval by the Idaho Legislature and would come at a price of around $9.8 million.

Ybarra said the proposed spending plan "demonstrates support" of all-day kindergarten, but Idaho Education News reports Ybarra's 2016-2017 budget "includes $5 million for literacy initiatives, but not the $9.8 million State Board plan." 

In a statement, Ybarra wrote, "Over 40 districts and charter schools across the state already take the opportunity to operate a full-day
kindergarten either as an intervention service, or as a choice to parents—in the spirit of local control this should remain optional and is a decision best made by local districts and their communities.”

Earlier this year, Idaho Voices for Children released a report showing only half of Idaho's schoolchildren are ready to learn reading by kindergarten. Additionally, early education is linked to improved economic outcomes—particularly among children from lower income families. According to the American Community Survey, 54 percent of Idaho children under the age of 6 live in low-income homes.

"The longer society waits to intervene in the life cycle of a disadvantaged child, the more costly it is to remediate the disadvantage," wrote University of Chicago economist James Heckman in the report.