Tell Your Legislators to Support Full Day Kindergarten
Update 02.25.22 - Please contact your legislators and ask them to support S1315 which would expand access to full day kindergarten at every school in Idaho. Find more information and easy advocacy tools from our friends at Save the Children here.
Many families in the state of Idaho only have access to half-day kindergarten due to where they live or the inability to pay tuition for a full-day kindergarten program. The State of Idaho only funds local school districts to provide half-day kindergarten at this time. Those schools that do offer a full-day kindergarten program supplement the remainder of the school day using funds from grants, local levies, or by charging families tuition.
Full-day kindergarten should be an option for all Idaho families, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. Working families need a full-day option to maintain employment, avoid the cost of additional childcare, and to give their children a bright future. Idaho children who attend full-day kindergarten show larger academic gains than their peers in half-day kindergarten, according to a recent study. And 40% of Idahoans are ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) or living under the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), making it challenging to afford tuition for full-day kindergarten.
Now is the time to make your voice heard, and advocate for funding to support full-day kindergarten in every elementary school in Idaho. Below are some easy ways to make your voice heard, followed by some specific talking points
Use this email action alert tool from Save the Children to easily contact your legislators
Or follow these easy steps from our friends at ReadyIdaho:
- Email your elected legislators
You can find out who your legislators are and their contact information by visiting: https://legislature.idaho.gov/legislators/whosmylegislator/
Tips for Drafting an Impactful Email
Personalize: Tell your story – don’t rely too heavily on facts or figures; talk about your perspective and how either access to full-day kindergarten benefited your child and you want other families to have the same access or, how you were unable to have your child participate in a full-day program because of where you live or ability to pay.
Make It Memorable: Lawmakers receive hundreds of emails every day. Do what you can to make your email memorable.
Call to Action: Make sure your legislator knows why they should support funding full-day kindergarten.
Follow Up: Feel free to follow up on your email if you don't receive a response.
- Call your elected legislators
It may be difficult to get in touch with a legislator directly over the phone, but you can always leave a message on their machine or with their staffer. Like with emails, legislators often take tallies of phone calls that support or oppose a particular issue.
How to make an impactful phone call:
Personalize: Is there a quick story you can tell that explains why you want your member of the legislature to support full day kindergarten?
Make It Memorable: Lawmakers and their staff receive many calls each day. Do what you can to make your call more conversational and memorable.
Call to Action: Make sure the member or staffer knows that they need to support full day kindergarten.
Create a script: Before making the call, write down exactly what you want to say so you can get your message across in the most effective way.
- Getting the word out in your community – letter to the editor, Op-Eds, social media:
Getting the word out to members of your community about the need for full-day kindergarten and submitting a letter to the editor (LTE) or guest opinion (Op-Ed) can do that. Generally, LTEs are accepted by anyone and have a limit of around 200-300 words per submission depending on the publication. Op-Eds are typically accepted from either a prominent member of the community and/or an authority in the topic the piece is addressing. These are generally 400-600 words in length. LTEs are easier to get published and lots of people can submit on a similar topic. When writing an LTE, try and draw from your own perspective and experience but feel free to glean some inspiration from the talking points listed below. You can find out how to submit a letter to the editor by going to your local news publications’ website and going to their “opinion” section.
Another great way to get the word out about the need for full-day kindergarten is to share news, related content, or opportunities to engage in social media channels including parent groups or other social groups.
Full-Day Kindergarten Talking Points
All Idaho parents should have the option to enter their children into quality, full-day kindergarten programs if they choose, but for some of Idaho’s communities, parents must pay out-of-pocket for their children to get the same education as their peers in other school districts.
Children who attend full-day kindergarten show significantly stronger academic gains over the course of the kindergarten year than their counterparts in half-day programs.
Currently, Idaho only provides state funding for half-day kindergarten. Local school districts that offer full-day kindergarten do so through federal programs or grants, local levies, or by charging parents.
Many parents who would like their children to attend full-day kindergarten are unable to because of the extra cost, putting their children at a disadvantage with their peers.
The benefits to children that full-day kindergarten provides should not be determined by zip code.
Making quality full-day kindergarten accessible to all Idaho children, no matter where they live, will mean more opportunities for them to succeed.
Universal full-day kindergarten would be optional for parents just as kindergarten has always been in Idaho.
Research shows that kids who attend full-day kindergarten have better academic outcomes in first grade.
For students with disabilities, those who are English language learners or are economically disadvantaged, full-day kindergarten or extended-day programs result in increased performance in literacy and numeracy, according to state kindergarten assessments.
Whether the funding for full-day kindergarten comes by increasing the literacy funding for schools or more traditional funding mechanisms, there would be significant benefit to all communities. Regardless of which route our lawmakers take, what is important is that all Idaho children have the benefit of being able to participate in a full-day kindergarten.
In a recent poll conducted by Boise State School of Public Service, over 68% of Idahoans support increasing funding to school districts so they can provide full-day kindergarten programs. (61% of Republicans, 69% of Intendents, and 89% of Democrats).