Michigan inches toward universal pre-K as leaders support 2-year kindergarten


Michigan is spending more than $120 million on children taking two years of kindergarten. That tab is likely to grow, with bipartisan support for the classes. (Shutterstock image)

Without news conferences, legislative action or statewide policy changes, Michigan is moving closer to universal, optional preschool for 4-year-olds.

By essentially sanctioning a second year of kindergarten, more than half of 4-year-olds in the state are now in taxpayer-funded preschool or developmental kindergarten, and that number is likely to increase, with bipartisan support in Lansing.

Those two-year programs add a 14th year to students’ traditional 13-year career. School districts are reimbursed for enrollment in developmental kindergarten at the same rate as students in K-12 grades, currently $8,111 per year.

The total cost to the state for two years of kindergarten last school year was $127 million. Michigan is spending an additional $244 million in the 2019-20 budget year on the Great Start Readiness Program, which offers preschool for 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families.

Great Start is a long-established program with its own budget approved by the Legislature and the governor each year. As Bridge Magazine previously reported in revealing this trend, two-year kindergarten programs are not funded specifically in the state budget, and there is no law or state policy establishing the programs.


Developmental kindergarten, sometimes called “early 5,” is the first of an intended two-year program before first grade. Most children in the classes have turned 5 in the months leading to the official Sept. 1 birth date cutoff for kindergarten, or turn 5 before Dec. 1.

Despite the cost and lack of statewide policy, two-year kindergarten programs have bipartisan support in the Michigan Legislature.

Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, who chairs the K-12 and Michigan Department of Education subcommittee, said the money the state is spending on an additional year of school could help the state’s efforts to improve literacy by the end of third grade. For the first time, third-graders in the 2019-20 school year may be held back to repeat the grade if they are poor readers.

“Some question the cost of this policy,” Schmidt wrote to Bridge. “Holding children back in kindergarten – when research shows their young minds are able to absorb learning at a better rate than later on in their childhood – may help ensure they are reading at grade level by third grade. It would be a disservice to the child to ignore his or her learning needs as soon as they are detected.

“The cost of ensuring our children are proficient in reading should not be the main concern,” Schmidt wrote.

Agreeing with Schmidt was Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, who is minority vice chair of the Education and Career Readiness committee.

“In the absence of universal pre-K in Michigan, it is not surprising to me that the demand for developmental kindergarten is trending across the state,” Polehanki wrote to Bridge. “When an additional year of early childhood education is planned as part of a student’s learning path, which programs such as Young 5s and Great Start have been providing for years, it is a responsible way to ensure students get the foundation they need.”


Developmental kindergarten, sometimes called “early 5,” is the first of an intended two-year program before first grade. (Bridge file photo)

Chris Wigent, executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators, said he expects more and more 4-year-olds to enroll in two-year kindergarten programs.

“It’s one example of something that’s been very successful without the need for [statewide] directives or public policy,” Wigent said. “I appreciate that legislators are saying, ‘This is working, why would we get involved?’”

The state’s individual public school districts choose whether to offer two-year kindergarten programs. School officials who spoke to Bridge said the programs are popular among parents, who can avoid a year of child care costs and see the extra year of kindergarten as a good transition to school.

Schools benefit from the $8,111 per-pupil state funding that comes with each 4-year-old enrolled in the programs.

Developmental kindergarten classes filled with 4-year-olds are more financially beneficial to school districts than GSRP classes with the same-age kids.

Schools receive $7,250 per year per student for full-day GSRP, with a cap of 16 students. That’s a max of $116,000 per GSRP classroom. Developmental kindergarten classrooms are generally similar in size to traditional kindergarten, at about 20 students. With per-pupil funding of $8,111 per year, developmental kindergarten classrooms bring in about $162,000 in state funding.

GSRP classrooms also are required to have two adults; developmental kindergarten is required to have only one.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she wants Michigan to have universal pre-K for 4-year-olds by the end of her first term in office, in 2022. The state is already more than halfway there without any policy initiative.

According to data provided by the Michigan Department of Education, there are 116,920 4-year-olds in the state. In other states that offer universal pre-K, about 80 percent of 4-year-olds enroll, which would equate to 93,536 kids in Michigan. Of those, 64 percent are already enrolled in publicly funded schooling – either federally-funded Head Start, state-funded GSRP or two-year kindergarten programs.

That leaves about 33,000 children. Enrolling them in two-year kindergarten programs would cost the state about $270 million a year on top of the $127 million now being spent on children enrolled in developmental kindergarten.

A spokesperson for the Whitmer administration did not reply to an email request for comment.

Some of the expansion needed to reach universal pre-K could happen organically, as the popular two-year kindergarten program spreads to more communities without involvement from the state. Two intermediate school superintendents who spoke to Bridge said they expected school districts in their regions to expand developmental kindergarten.

MDE has kept developmental kindergarten at arm’s length – not supporting or criticizing the programs that are bringing much-needed dollars into school districts. The department told Bridge that it has not examined data to determine if children who have two years of public school before first grade perform better academically.

“There’s no incentive for schools not to do this - kindergarten is a money maker,” said Matt Gillard, president of Michigan’s Children, a public policy child advocacy organization, and a former state legislator. “If I were a legislator right now and I were seeing this in the K-12 budget, I’d want to know that if we were spending all this money to repeat kindergarten, that it was having some educational value, and not just [giving] parents a free year of child care.”

There is no statewide curriculum for developmental kindergarten, an issue that needs to be addressed if two-year kindergarten programs are the new norm, said MASA’s Wigent. “What needs to happen is to learn from the best practices [on developmental kindergarten] out there,” Wigent said, “so children across the state can have equal access to two years’ preparation [for first grade].”

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Charlotte Hall
Wed, 01/08/2020 - 9:05am

It would be very helpful to ALL of the residents of Michigan if the New Governor had actually spent MONEY repairing the ROADS in this state this year!!! Now, it is WINTER and the weather is COLD and we still have the POT HOLES in Our roads that were there Last Year!! Instead, She wants to spend money on a program for 2 Year Kindergarten that far fewer people would benefit from!!!

Christine Baker
Wed, 01/08/2020 - 9:35am

It isn’t good public policy, and isn’t universally accessible to children across the state. Access depends on space, which not all districts have. Further, it is NOT pre-k! Children enrolled in Young 5’s are K eligible (for the most part). If there really was access to universal pre-k, those children who are 4 until Dec.1 would be eligible for state funded pre-K. And, there is mixed evidence that delaying K enrollment is beneficial. Whereas evidence supporting earlier experience at 3 and 4 years of age is solid.
As long as there are children with no access to pre-K, funding two years of ‘K’ for middle class families is inequitable, increases the disparity in student outcomes, and makes little sense fiscally at the state level. A much better use of public resources would be to fund universal pre-K accessible to all.

Leon L. Hulett
Wed, 01/08/2020 - 9:47am

Schools can inadvertently cause students to become 'unable to learn'. See the longest running study in psychology - Genetic Studies of Genius conducted by Terman, Standford University 1500 students lost 9 points of IQ in 6 years, that is 1.5 points of IQ per year.

This loss of 'ability to learn' is known, and is measurable. It can be detected. There are tests that do detect this. The quantitative amount may be less for the average student, IQ 100 student. The 9 points of IQ loss in 6 years of public school was tested and measured on Gifted Students, in the California Public School System with 140-220 IQ's.

My guess would be that one additional year of preschool would cause a loss of intelligence of 1.0 points of IQ across all of Michigan students enrolled in this program, unless measures are taken to correct this loss of ability to learn. This loss of ability to learn currently is across 13 grade levels. Adding one more year of loss of ability to learn increases this to 14 years of loss of the ability to learn.

It can be detected, and it can be corrected easily. This fact should not be ignored or neglected.

Leon L. Hulett, PE

Ed Haynor
Wed, 01/08/2020 - 11:59am

I’m surprised that Mr. Hulett, since being a professional engineer, didn’t site the study itself where it concluded that “1500 students lost 9 points of IQ in 6 years,” either conducted by Terman or through the California Public School System.

Perhaps readers should make up their own minds regarding the work of Mr. Terman and the value, if any, of 2 years of kindergarten. Some suggested readings are: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_Studies_of_Genius, https://www.gwern.net/docs/iq/1989-subotnik.pdf, and https://www.gwern.net/docs/iq/1992-shurkin-termanskids.pdf.

Leon Hulett
Thu, 01/09/2020 - 5:15am

Thanks for the comment.

The data about 9 points of lost IQ is in Vol III of that study, where the tests were conducted by Mr. Terman, himself, in 1928. I did not see that most vital info on your wiki site. One can read it for themselves by accessing his book, Volume III, directly from their local library. My library was willing to obtain this volume of the continuing study for me. Here are the details of the book to locate it: https://www.amazon.com/promise-genetic-studies-thousand-children/dp/B000... It appears that amazon is out of that volume at the moment, except for the collectors edition. It is usually on Ebay, but I did not see it there just now.

I am trained to do something called Word Clearing. This is where one helps a student locate words they have gone past in their studies that they did not fully understand. One helps them locate exact words then helps them define each one properly with a dictionary. This is the exact technology that reverses the lost IQ observed by Terman in the California Public School System between 1922 and 1928. It did take me a while to locate that exact study by Terman and document where the writers of Intelligence Tests, and the field of education, have studied and observed this idea and quantified this lost IQ themselves, and then did nothing about it. You and I can do something about it.

Adding another year to K-12 education without emphasizing and mandating that teachers and students understand the words they are using, or clarifying the words they are learning, speaking, hearing, reading and writing, with a dictionary is about as smart as not clarifying such words in K-12.

I would like to take a look at your other two references next. - Leon

Your Hunter study with 230 students did not replicate the 6 years IQ testing of the Terman study. It did comment extensively on the gender differences, as did the Terman study. Terman's data found that female students lost 17 points of IQ in 6 years. The Hunter study did not test after 6 years, and did not note this most important fact of Terman's study, but did comment in general on this subject, with two conclusions that support my point. Participants concluded:
1. "I have developed a new approach to life with lower standards and greater toleration for my own human imperfections."
2. "I have experienced a loss of idealism" as working to support a family be-comes more important. When people told me earlier that that might happen, I said it wouldn't happen to me.
My conclusion is that the Hunter research strategy did not assess the two most important conclusions of the Terman study - Public education reduces IQ substantially. My conclusion would be how do we fix this?

I chose not to try to download the 334 pages of your last ref, THE GROUND BREAKING STUDY OF HOW THE GIFTED GROW UP JOEL N. SHURKIN

But I do see that it is available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Termans-Kids-Groundbreaking-Study-Gifted/dp/03167...

The Head Librarian at my local library confided in me privately when Terman's Vol III came in for me, that she could not read this book, despite wanting to very much. I expect that might be the same for many readers. My conclusion was that she was 'unable to learn' from that book.

That students become unable to learn, and that this is NOT being handled immediately, is my whole point. - Leon

Ed Haynor
Thu, 01/09/2020 - 6:10pm

In the websites I provided regarding Mr. Terman’s work, there was no reference to “data about 9 points of lost IQ.” That’s why I listed these sites, since, if in fact this was a major finding, I suspect at least one of these sites would have reported it.

In the publication “Genetic studies of genius. III. The promise of youth,” Burks, B. S., Jensen, D. W., & Terman, L. M., conducted in 1930, almost 100 years ago, there is an abstract which state, “This is the first field follow-up of the thousand gifted children reported in Vol. I. Over 90% cooperation was secured in the regular group and about 80% in the high school group. There are four parts; Part I reports the principal results. The IQ's, even when corrected for the inadequacy of the instrument at the ages concerned, have dropped somewhat, more for the girls than for the boys. School achievement and progress are in general far above average; interest as measured by the Wyman test is only slightly permanent. Vocational plans and achievement are of a high order, as are in general social and personality traits; the latter as estimated by home and school have regressed slightly toward the mean, but remain substantially higher than controls. The health conditions are uniformly good, and the home conditions have improved slightly. The siblings average 123 IQ, as could be predicted from a knowledge of the usual fraternal correlation. Most of the high school group are in college; 19 boys and 9 girls are married, and 6 have had children. Part II is devoted to clinical studies of cases of special interest. Part III (Jensen's doctoral dissertation) describes the derivation of a scale for estimating the merit of literary juvenilia and its application to the productions of 14 of the gifted children, which are in most cases indistinguishable from those of eminent litterateurs at the same age.”

Although in the above paragraph regarding Vol I of Terman’s study, “The IQ's, even when corrected for the inadequacy of the instrument at the ages concerned, have dropped somewhat, more for the girls than for the boys. School achievement and progress are in general far above average.” Apparently, since the major emphasis of those studied, was a study of persons of high IQ (123 average of siblings), somehow a drop of 9 points to me would not seem significant, since many things in life, including schooling, effect a person’s IQ over time, depending when and under what conditions persons were being tested, as well as various other environmental conditions those being tested were experiencing. The result of “School achievement and progress are in general far above average,” as reported in Vol I, would to me promote the value of public schools. Also, I view Vol. I, conclusions, “Vocational plans and achievement are of a high order, as are in general social and personality traits; the latter as estimated by home and school have regressed slightly toward the mean, but remain substantially higher than controls,” very good news as well.

Your “Word Clearing” training apparently is part of the religious teachings of Scientology, as founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1950, about 20 years after the original Terman study. So, to be enlightened, are public schools now supposed to teach Scientology to students to correct oversights brought out by Terman?

I do agree with you, as you say, “that teachers and students understand the words they are using, or clarifying the words they are learning, speaking, hearing, reading and writing,” and this might be one reason why many students are having difficulty in reading at the third grade level.

I completely disagree with you regarding Terman’s study, since he as far as I can determine, he never concluded that “public education reduces IQ substantially.” That’s your conclusion, not his. Of course, that might be part of your Scientology beliefs as well. If so, that religious ideology has no business in the discourse of quality public education.

Leon Hulett
Fri, 01/10/2020 - 7:57am

It appears you chose your citations only to dismiss my conclusions, or these two conclusions, on public education:
1) 9 points of IQ loss in 6 years is a major thing. 17 points of IQ loss in 6 years for female students is a major thing.
2) The study obviously was conducted in California Public Schools Systems and included only public school students.

It appears your intention is now obvious.

I am presenting my views, not the views of Scientology, from 1950 as you say, when it did not exist. You are merely being dismissive, more generally.

My personal view is that if a student's understanding of words is not a priority for public education it will fail. If the student does not understand the words being used in K-12 that student will fail in life. To me this is being demonstrated, as as a manager in industry employing new people directly from public education the weaknesses of public education are most obvious.

I say, this is the most important fact in the education of any new employee in Michigan. In seconds, or minutes, or hours I can help a failing employee or student to locate and clarify a word that is directly causing them to fail. Often this is from Grade 1. I would hate to see these words that cause them to fail, now shift to the 4-year old cohort. To me this is obvious, a teacher failed to clarify a word with a student in first grade and the student failed to understand that same word throughout their entire education including when he or she arrived in my office

This is called "word clearing". You have no word for it in public education and you have NO technology to do it. It is when one locates a word that was missed and you help a student to clarify very specifically, what they do not understand. When you do this, and you locate a word from first grade, it can be a profound thing, how much an employee's understanding and their view of life changes. I consider this to be a betrayal of the student by education. If education knows about it, I am confident they will, at least at the level of the individual of a teacher correct this error. But there is the possibility that a person like you will dismiss what is important for anyone to know.

I ask you not to dismiss this fact and prevent public education in Michigan from discovering it.

The 9 points of average IQ loss or 17 points of average IQ loss in 6 years of public education is totally preventable. If we are talking about 13 years or 14 years of public education each teacher needs to know exactly what causes this "inability to learn" each time they go past a word a they do not fully understand, and they should know precisely how to NOT do this to ALL students in their care.

As an individual you may dismiss all you wish. I trust that you, as an individual, will include what you know to be most important.

There are very few that will stand up and say what they believe is the best solution to a very, very large public school problem.

I can see no other solution for education than to actually clarify these things, and to teach students to clarify and understand the words they hear and they read. To dismiss this idea is villainy itself.

Leon Hulett
Fri, 01/10/2020 - 12:38pm

Volume III of the Terman study is from 1928,not 1930.

I will get a copy from my local library so I can quote you 'chapter and verse' where he says the students from California Public schools lost an average of 9 points in 6 years, and female students lost an average of 17 points in 6 years. I assume you have not read this book.

Ed Haynor
Fri, 01/10/2020 - 2:56pm

Below, I believe I've at least cleared up for my satisfaction your reference to Terman and "where he says the students from California Public schools lost an average of 9 points in 6 years, and female students lost an average of 17 points in 6 years."

I have not as you say earlier, “chose your (my) citations only to dismiss my (your) conclusions.” My research took me to those citations, since I have been unable to support your conclusions from Terman’s work, as reviewed by professional researchers.

Today, I did find a professional review of the Genetic Studies of Genius,' (Terman’s work) conducted by the Stanford University, by Margaret Cobb from the Psycho-Educational Clinic at Harvard University from the University of Chicago Press. Nowhere in her review does she refer to, or quote “9 points of IQ loss in 6 years, or 17 points of IQ loss in 6 years for female students.” She did say, the study dealt “with intelligence; educational progress and achievement; school marks and honors; scholastic and vocational interests; social, personality, health, and home tests and ratings; family statistics; and follow-up reports of the original high-school and special-ability groups. An interesting finding on Binet retests is that the girls' quotients on the retests are lower by about 13 points than their quotients on the original tests, while the boys showed almost no change.” She goes on to say, “The matter of sex difference seems to demand further study. Another point of interest is confirmation of the fact that the Herring-Binet test gives gifted children lower intelligence quotients than does the Stanford revision of the Binet test. The second survey also confirms, in general, the findings of the previous study in that all school results show either little or no drop.” Perhaps the reason for the girls decline of 13 points, was because they were retested with a different test, but that does not explain why the boys showed almost no change, unless of course the boys were retested using the same test.

She also said that the third volume study was about “observation and measurement of California's gifted children,” not a random study of all of California’s public school students, that you are attempting to lead people to believe. She goes onto say that the third volume study was “descriptive and comparative, rather than an experimental study.”

Descriptive and comparative studies are ones where researchers observe the effect of a risk factor, like a diagnostic test, such as an IQ test. However, the results of these types of studies are, by their nature, open to dispute. They run the risk of containing confounding biases. And it’s clear to me that you appear to show a predisposition against public education, therefore, the reason for submitting your comments in the first place regarding the value, if any, of pre-K or two years of kindergarten education. Therefore, you give the impression that you found a study that supports your bias against public education and then you reported on it.

So, by finding a “genius study,” where supposedly there appeared some loss of IQ, you’re attempting to get readers to believe a cause and effect scenario of the loss of some IQ of students who were considered at a genius (gifted) level, through the California Public Schools System, a study conducted long ago, that public education is a failure. I don’t buy that bunk and I hope other readers don’t buy it either, since they’d be believing in junk science (untested or unproven theories when presented as scientific fact).

Your statement, “To me this is obvious, a teacher failed to clarify a word with a student in first grade and the student failed to understand that same word throughout their entire education including when he or she arrived in my office,” is ridiculous and untenable, since you can’t prove any of this. As a professional engineer, you should know better than to make such an outlandish statement.

Deny it all you want, but “word clearing,” is a precept of the Church of Scientology. Anytime a person brings up religion or politics, especially regarding public education, persons ought to be on guard, since too often those persons have other motives in mind. A good read on “Scientology's Fraudulent Study Technology” can be found at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/StudyTech/.

As you say, “teach students to clarify and understand the words they hear and they read,” I have no disagreement with, since I stated that earlier. But a study technology such as “word clearing” through Scientology-driven, cult-like dogma, appears to be quite dangerous to me and not in the best interest of public school students or their parents.

Leon Hulett
Fri, 01/10/2020 - 8:05pm


As you say, "Anytime a person brings up religion or politics, especially regarding public education, persons ought to be on guard, since too often those persons have other motives in mind."

You brought up religion not me. Read my original comment again.

I am now on guard. Others who read this should be too. Knowing that you are the one who said it, and you are the one who brought it up.

My original comment refers to the book I read through quite thoroughly, word by word as a matter of fact. I brought up the Terman study of 1500 students selected from California Public Schools, Terman says, these students lost 9 points of IQ on the average in 6 years. That seems like a problem to me. Terman took great care to test this observation as accurately as possible, if you read the book. As you have shown, this is a study known to public education, but possibly not exactly in the way I point out today. Terman said he did not know what caused this.

I merely pointed out what does solve this problem, and this can be demonstrated by any student, any teacher, anyone. A modern day "Terman" could do it. One notices a word they should know and they define it with a dictionary properly. Easy-Peasy.

I have seen nothing in educational materials that solves this problem, this "Terman" observation.

I merely point it out, do with it what you will.

I have proposed that a student can use a dictionary to define each word that he comes to that he will hear, read, write or say. You seem to have no problem with this approach. Teaching a student how to and when to define a word with a dictionary would seem to be a most obvious thing to do.

As a substitute teacher I found myself doing exactly this Lesson Plan one day with a fifth-grade class in Fife Lake Michigan. The entire class went from normal fifth graders to "doing well." This is the way I define "doing well", or this is what I mean by, "doing well."

"A student should be flying, along feeling brilliant, enthusiastic, fully able to understand what they are learning, without stress or strain and able to recall and apply what they have learned."

Any student has been doing well in the past or is doing well now, in each subject. If they are not doing well now, they can be returned to "doing well" by using a dictionary. If they are not doing well, one can have them locate the time they were last doing well, and then read forward from there locating and clarifying any words they come to that they do not fully understand.

If you can accept that simple procedure that is all it takes to solve Terman's little problem. I have made it look simple, it is a simple thing. Please do not over complicate it.

Michigan public education can do this if it wishes to or not. I don't think any student can afford not to.

Best regards,

Leon L. Hulett, PE

Leon Hulett
Sat, 01/11/2020 - 5:02am

For the information of readers:

The State of Michigan Constitution,

Article VIII, Section 1,
"Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."

Section 2, "The legislature shall maintain and support a system of free public elementary and secondary schools as defined by law. Every school district shall provide for the education of its pupils without discrimination as to religion, creed, race, color or national origin."

The United States Bill of Rights

Amendment 1.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"

middle of the mit
Fri, 01/10/2020 - 2:26am

By this theory the State should educate nobody with State taxpayer money.

If education by your standard that you are proposing..people and kids actually lose intelligence, why should anyone educate their kids?

YOU are LITERALLY telling us that education can cause an ability to NOT LEARN.

Hey Bones!


Leon Hulett
Sun, 01/12/2020 - 5:13pm

Dear Sir:

I am pointing out that a study called "Genetic Studies of Genius" by a professor Terman of Stanford University does say that students in California Public Schools lost an average of 9 points of IQ on the tests he personally supervised, in 6 years. See Volume I of his study to see who he included in the study, and the lengths he went to, to select these students. See Volume III of his study where he conducted the tests himself and took great care with 57 or so younger students I believe, to verify with the exact same testing. Later in that Volume he points out that this same IQ loss was true for all 1500 of the students in the study. Female students lost 17 points of IQ in 6 years.

If you question what I say, here I have absolutely no problem with that. It is astounding. That is the data that Dr. Terman published. I suggest you read Dr. Turman's books yourself, Vol I and Vol III. They are available from your local library, that is where I found the best access to them, and the details of his study.

Best regards,


Sat, 01/11/2020 - 10:52am

My experience with my 3 twice exceptional children validates Terman's conclusions and Leon Hulett's argument that public schools can and often do produce an IQ / learning/ intelligence drop in many students, and that the drop is proportionate to time spent in those classrooms. For those of you who aren't familiar with education jargon, a "twice exceptional" child is one who is both academically gifted (scores >= 95th percentile on achievement tests or IQ of 130 or higher) and has an educationally-significant disability, such as ADHD, seriously impaired hearing or vision, autism, dyslexia, or other specific learning disabilities.

The entire saga is too long to share here, but as an example, my eldest first took the SAT late in 6th grade in order to qualify for summer programs for gifted students held by and at MSU. His score for that exam was at the 99th percentile of ALL Michigan students taking the exam that year. That was in 2004, when the majority of students taking the SAT were juniors expecting to apply to colleges; Michigan used the ACT as a high school exit exam at that time.

Fast forward 4 years, to when my son was 16 and a HS junior. Due to high school teachers refusing to allow him to use a laptop for written classwork in violation of his IEP, he took most of his sophomore and all of his junior (and senior) year academic courses on-line through Michigan Virtual High School. That spring he took the ACT at school, using his keyboarding accommodation. He also took the SAT at a testing center, in the (then new) on-line format, which didn't require accommodation for his disability. After 5 additional years of exposure to public school curriculum, his scores on both versions of those college entrance exams dropped from 99th percentile to 95th, primarily in his math scores, in spite of having passed courses in geometry, algebra 1 and 2, trigonometry, and calculus between 7th grade and 11th grades. In the interim, the pool of both SAT and ACT test takers had been dramatically expanded due to states making these college-entry exams universally available under NCLB. Worse yet, my son so hated the idea of spending any more time in a classroom that he enlisted in the US military instead of attending college, turning down several scholarship offers to do so.

Leon Hulett
Sun, 01/12/2020 - 3:01pm

Anna, thank you for your supportive comment.

I once demonstrated how ADD symptoms are brought into being in public schools for a reporter from our local 9 & 10 TV station. We were on camera for an hour, but she published only 18 seconds of it, where I said, "The only reason a student becomes confused or unable to learn is that they have gone past a word they did not understand." During our one-hour interview I said seven words to her, as a demonstration, one of which she did not understand. She became confused, unable to learn and could not apply what I had asked. I clarified the one word she could not understand, all of her symptoms vanished and she was now bright, and able to learn, able to understand, and able apply what was said. This was on-camera. But she did not publish all of what we said, and what she actually observed for herself, she had 40 minutes of air time paid for by 'the-powers-that-be", but only used my story in a degrading way to say I was an example of person that does not believe in drug-treatments. She was actually selling drugs to children. Just after that time local schools increased the number of students diagnosed with ADD and 11% of all students at all local schools were put on psychiatric drugs like Ritalin, methylphenidate, that provided no relief for what they did not understand, that actually causes such issues. My efforts were ignored and nullified.

I encourage you to learn how to define a word properly with a dictionary, and then show your son how to do this.
I also, encourage you to read what I said above, namely that a student can be doing well in school, and then not be doing well in school. To correct the inability to learn, one merely has the student return to the point where they were last doing well in the materials they were studying, in your case 6th grade math. Then scan forward spotting any words that they do not fully understand. Clarify each of those words with the dictionary properly. Select the exact meaning from the dictionary that fits the way the exact word was used in his materials. One can be very exact with this. This idea is VERY powerful. The very first word you find, and clarify properly, should return your son to "doing well." If this does not happen, then you should look earlier, to find an earlier word in the subject of math that he does not fully understand, that does return him to "doing well" when it is clarified. As you help him solve this, you are looking for a single word that does this. When he is "doing well" then you start there, at that exact point in his materials where he went past it, and have him restudy the entire subject forward, from there, "doing well" all the way. I learned how to do this on something called The Student Hat Course. If religion is an insurmountable problem to you, and you can not take this course to solve this big of a problem, you could take the course my sons did, The Basic Study Manual. That course can also be taken in public schools. Both courses are available all over the world.

Best regards,

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 10:56am

Why not just let the state raise the children Like the movie Logan's Run. No need for parents. I never sent my children to the government schools. I understand that not all children come from functioning homes But why can't they get extra help during the school year instead of more tax payer money!

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 11:48am

Isn’t there some sort of maturity test that could be given to all children to determine when they should enter kindergarten? Some 4 year olds have the maturity of 5 year olds or even some younger 6 year olds. We seem to be setting up a system where everyone is regarded as equal in learning ability when they are not.

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 10:09am

There once was a set of "kindergarten readiness" standards for knowledge and behavior that could be used by school districts to permit or deny children who would be under 5 years of age on Dec 1 "early" entry to kindergarten. There are still kindergarten entry expectations and standards, but the state no longer allows them to be used to allow younger children to start public school early. This is supposedly a move towards "educational equity" but in practice it denies academically gifted children their right to a free, appropriate education for them.

The "young 5" programs in Michigan's public school districts may be well-intended, but they amount to money grabs by the school districts that provide them. If the parents of a "young 5" or an academically advanced child who is supposedly "too young" for public school kindergarten can afford to put them in a private school for kindergarten, and the child successfully completes that K year, the parents can and probably will insist on enrolling that student in 1st grade the next year. The school district thus permanently misses out on a full years' worth of taxpayer funding for that student. If the district has a "Young 5" program and enrolls the student there, they will almost certainly collect 2 years of state money for that student. The schools are allowed, and do, rigidly enforce the "still too young for 1st grade" rule, even when a student meets or exceeds all other 1st grade entry criteria. Since almost every school district in Michigan is seeing declining enrollment, an extra year per student of revenue is a BIG inducement to create and expand a Young 5's program. Especially since kindergarten classes are much less expensive for the districts to run than middle or high school classes. The MEA applauds this practice, because it keeps more certified teachers employed. In spite of much talk about a "teacher shortage", Michigan has a significant surplus of general education elementary school teachers.

Leon Hulett
Tue, 01/14/2020 - 5:54am


It sounds like you are suggesting a standard is needed for this. Is that true?

I would define the word standard as: "a definite level of quality suitable for a specific purpose."

Possibly there should be a standard for entrance to each grade level.

I suggest for each grade level, it be competency in each previous grade level. A companion standard for teacher's contracts could be, "I promise to teach each child in my care to grade level by the end of the year, or I will personally hire a tutor to bring them up to grade level before the start of the next school year." This would be a professional equivalent of what is called "liquidated damages" in other state level professional level contracts. If a school is not built by a Contractor by a certain agreed upon date, the contract says, "Liquidated Damages: $600.00 per day liquidated damages to be paid, if the school is not completed by Sept 1, 2003."

So what should we have as the entrance point for kindergarten, if not age 5? Likewise, at any earlier level, age 4?

My son took my grand son and grand daughter to a Dance School when the boy was 4 and the girl was 2. The Dance Instructors could work with the 4-year old boy, he was accepted. The 2 year-old girl would stray away, and do her own thing, and not participate with the group. The girl was not accepted to that school. The first two times my son applied, this is what happened with my grand daughter. The third time she was accepted, and she was still 2 years old.

So a standard that might satisfy what you are suggesting is, can the child participate and benefit, and is the teacher willing and able to work with this child, for the child's benefit. Can the teacher sign a contract that says, they will teach this child to grade level, or whatever is to be accomplished that year, by the end of the year. And, can the school have the option to not accept a child that will not benefit. Can a teacher have the option to not accept a child they can not help.

Can you make something like that work?


Brian Davis
Sun, 01/12/2020 - 9:23am

The piece that is missing from this article is that there currently is not a compulsory attendance law in Michigan. School is required to start at age six(6). These 4-5 year-olds sign up for these programs but do not have to attend, especially during inclement weather. Our local data shows students who miss 10 (ten) or more days have a greater risk of not meeting grade-level benchmarks. There is a miss here on universal programs and then requiring individuals to attend. Those who need it, and do not regularly attend are many of those falling further behind.

Kristina Koslowski
Mon, 02/10/2020 - 2:09am

To much school.... TO MUCH!!! Leaves these little ones to being little ones. They need to play not be forced to sit and listen. This is getting ridiculous