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Alan Davis, Moorhead, Published March 08 2013

Letter: Moorhead schools send voters mixed message about priorities

In the Moorhead School District, a quasi-corporate model has replaced the kind of teacher-administrator collaboration that made Moorhead, in the past, a destination for dynamic teachers and parents with young children. As a result, the Moorhead school system is doing such parents a disservice by not providing all-day kindergarten.

We approved additional funding in Moorhead for our school system on the second try, and because the system’s administrators promised to use the funding to decrease class sizes, increase infrastructure and improve teacher morale – which is at an all-time low. That hasn’t happened. Instead, the funding was used to hire additional administrators, increase their compensation, and burden teachers with additional layers of bureaucracy that hinder good student-centered teaching.

The district sends voters mixed signals. On the one hand, it claims it wants to spearhead a community engagement initiative, an initiative that would certainly support all-day kindergarten; on the other hand, it turned down an offer to broadcast public meetings very inexpensively, making it, according to the Moorhead Community Access Media, “the only major city function that does not have meetings broadcast.”

Notably, and unbelievably, there’s still no all-day kindergarten in Moorhead. Numerous studies show that children need it. Statewide, most districts understand its importance. It increases cognitive learning and social adaptability. It leads to higher graduation rates and healthier adults. In Minnesota, more than half of all kindergarten students receive free, full-day kindergarten.

Dilworth provides it, for example, but not Moorhead? What’s that all about? All-day kindergarten is the right thing to do. As Burnsville Superintendent Randy Clegg said, “Full-day kindergarten is educationally sound; it is also financially sound.”

Our governor wants to add $40 million to state funding to help schools fund it. Doing it in Moorhead, especially with additional funding, is a no-brainer.

It’s not only time for Moorhead to do it – it’s way past time. Why isn’t it a priority? Why hasn’t it been done? Our hard-working parents and their children deserve to have it in place next fall. Having it in place would draw many parents with young children to live in Moorhead. Along with flood control, it’s the best marketing device imaginable for the city.