Pancholi pitches full-day kindergarten and more supports for students

Rakhi Pancholi has a made significant campaign promise in the world of K-12 education in her bid to become leader of the Alberta NDP with a particular focus on the K. 

The campaign plank, unveiled on Feb. 23, commits to:

  • Implementing full-day kindergarten
  • Expanding school nutrition programs
  • Increasing supports, standards and training for educators for students with disabilities

The promise echoes a campaign promise from the Alberta NDP in 2015 where the party, then led by Rachel Notley, also promised full-day kindergarten. However in their first budget in 2016 and in subsequent budgets thereafter the campaign promise was never fulfilled. The promise of all-day kindergarten was then altogether absent from the Alberta NDP platform in 2019 and 2023. In the 2023 election Public Interest Alberta actually gently called out the Alberta NDP for not having full-day kindergarten in their platform

The Alberta NDP did campaign on and actually fulfill the promise of school nutrition programs during their time in power and it's unclear if the UCP have cut back those programs. 

These are unequivocal good things to campaign on and given that Kathleen Ganley and Sarah Hoffman were cabinet members in a government that refused to implement full-day kindergarten while Pancholi wasn't (she was elected in 2019) Pancholi is actually in a position to campaign on this and not look like a hypocrite. 

Full day kindergarten has long been a political hot button issue in Alberta. Alison Redford campaigned on it and then failed to follow through. Ralph Klein famously cut kindergarten to a half-day in his brutal 1994 budget and Alberta has never made its way back to full-day kindergarten ever since. Quebec, Ontario and B.C. all have full-day kindergarten while Alberta still does not. 

"The full day kindergarten promise is setting her apart from other leadership candidates for now. The details will be important as far as who has access to it and the school nutrition program and how universal it is. Otherwise these programs can just be easily rolled back," said Wing Li with Support our Students. 

The Manitoba NDP also campaigned on full-day kindergarten and school nutrition programs. We're still waiting to see if Premier Wab Kinew will follow through on those promises as their first budget since forming government hasn't come out yet.