The Times attends kindergarten: Are we a literate people? Do we know how to read and write?
Increasingly, we’d have to say the answer is no. For our latest case in point, we present an article which appeared on the front page of today’s New York Times, “New York Edition” only.
The report concerns full-day kindergarten in the state of New York. From his study carrel on the front page, Al Baker describes the problem:
BAKER (3/7/14): A significant expansion of full-day preschool in the state is likely in the coming years, though a fight continues between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio over the best way to pay for it. Left unsaid, however, is that 7,100 students, or 4 percent of New York’s kindergartners, are now in school for only about three hours a day, according to the State Education Department.Fully serve the Shenendehowa 568!
“I don’t want to sound disrespectful, but it’s comical to skip over a first step, which is solidifying kindergarten,” said Dr. L. Oliver Robinson, the superintendent of the Shenendehowa schools, outside Saratoga, where 568 children attend half-day kindergarten. Many students do not enter the public schools until first grade, their parents choosing to pay for private, full-day kindergarten or to simply keep them home.
It’s surprising to learn that the state of New York doesn’t require full-day kindergarten. The real chaos starts two paragraphs later, when our Times reporter tries to explain the nature of the problem:
BAKER: The issue is not easily resolved. The governor has offered to use state money to pay for full-day prekindergarten in any district that wants it. But outside New York City, which already has full-day kindergarten, most school funding comes from local property taxes. Districts without full-day kindergarten are typically not poor enough to qualify for enhanced federal funding, but also face resistance to raising property taxes substantially, especially now that state law limits how much they can increase those taxes in any year.Say what? And not only that:
Are we a literate people? Do we really know how to read and write?
In the paragraph we have posted, Baker explains why this issue isn’t easily resolved. To judge from this paragraph, a larger problem prevails:
The issue can’t be explained!
In one imponderable paragraph, Baker discusses state funding, federal funding and several aspects of local property taxes. We don’t have the slightest idea what comes out of this goulash.
Baker starts by saying that Governor Cuomo “has offered to use state money to pay for full-day prekindergarten in any district that wants it.” It sounds like the problem is solved!
From there, we’re off on a cross country jaunt we simply don’t understand. Most of the districts in question “aren’t poor enough to qualify for enhanced federal funding,” Baker writes, failing to explain why they would need such funding if Cuomo will pick up the tab.
Thrown in are a couple of comments about local property taxes and resistance to, and limits on, the raising of same.
Do you understand that paragraph? We find no place in Baker’s report where this puzzle gets resolved.
Everything most of us need to know we learned in kindergarten. Did Baker’s editor learn how to fashion a paragraph which makes basic sense?