Some pre-K teachers ‘feel like they work at a daycare’

December 18, 2018

Jonathan Small

Some pre-K teachers, busy with potty-training, ‘feel like they work at a daycare.’ Senate Bill 11 can help fix that​.

Hats off to state senator Greg McCortney from Ada who, as CNHI reporter Janelle Stecklein reports, “wants to change Oklahoma’s public school cutoff date so that some children must wait longer before enrolling in pre-K and kindergarten.”

Senate Bill 11 seeks to change the state’s long-held cutoff date from Sept. 1 to July 1. That means children would have to be at least 4 years old by July 1 rather than Sept. 1 to enroll in pre-K. They must be at least 5 by July 1 to enroll in kindergarten. …

“Every pre-K and kindergarten teacher thinks it’s the greatest idea that they’ve ever heard that doesn’t cost any money,” said state Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, who authored the measure. McCortney said children are showing up for their first couple of months of pre-K not potty-trained or short the maturity to learn or communicate. “This bill would give an extra three months of maturity to these kids that we’re starting in pre-K,” he said. “According to all the teachers I’ve talked to, those extra three months would make a huge difference.” …

Janel Manuel, a Byng Public Schools kindergarten teacher, said changing the cutoff has a real potential to help children. It will also benefit parents and teachers, she said. … “For my pre-K colleagues, they have students in pre-K that are not fully potty-trained yet, and our classrooms are not fully equipped with the needs to take care of potty training,” she said. Manuel said the measure is not about keeping children out of school but about making sure students are ready to be taught.

Sen. McCortney’s public-school bona fides are impeccable. His mother was a teacher and his father was a longtime school board member. His wife holds Parent-Teacher Organization leadership roles and their three children attend Ada Public Schools. He was endorsed by the Oklahoma Education Association.

What’s he trying to do is help children. “My biggest goal is to make sure that our kids have the best chance possible to succeed and, right now, we've got kids entering schools that aren't ready to learn,” he says. KFOR, the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City, reports: “McCortney said he's heard from many pre-K teachers in his hometown of Ada who feel like they work at a daycare instead of a school.”

This reform proposed by Sen. McCortney will also be yet another way to help teachers and should be commended and adopted.