There is a post at EduKey pointing to an article describing how public schools are changing their ideas about kindergarten. More schools are turning kindergarten into more work.
Kindergarten used to be a time for children to adjust to being away from their mothers. I think that's why kindergarten was only half a day and usually was more games than work. Kids were given a chance to get used to being out of the home.
Now that schools realize that they no longer performing as well as they were, they are looking for any kind of solution that might offer some hope of remedying the problem. One could point out that they're barking up the wrong tree--but that's been done.
The very curious aspect of this idea of making kindergarten more work, is that many schools are also trying to keep younger kids out of kindergarten. So now, instead of doing kindergarten work in kindergarten with kindergarten aged children, the public school wants to do first-grade work with first-grade aged children and call it kindergarten.