Wednesday, August 20, 2008

One Shirt, Two Shirt, Red Shirt, Blue Shirt

This weekend I read an essay in a certain over-the-top baby-as-fashion-accessory mommy magazine (that shall remain nameless but is named after a dessert traditionally served with a glass of milk) about a mom's conflicted feelings about sending her child to kindergarten or holding him back. She mentioned the argument (founded or unfounded) that kindergarten is more academically rigorous now and that many schools encourage kids to be held back a year and that "all" it costs is another year of paying for pre-school, when it struck me (she did not address any societal implications) that the drive for more academic kindergarten ("the new first grade") coupled with the encouragement of holding kids back (or forced hold-back for very early cut-off dates) equals basically eliminating kindergarten, which not only puts us on equal footing with New Hampshire (which, I have heard but cannot substantiate, does not require school districts to provide kindergarten), but also increases the burden on families that cannot afford that extra year of preschool (or any preschool at all), and puts those children at even greater disadvantage. It also increases the burden on school districts--already cash-strapped and overwhelmed--that have a high proportion of families that cannot afford private preschool to provide pre-kindergarten. To me it appears to be a subtle, sneaky erosion of the promise of education for all. And it stinks.

But I was happy to read this from a levelheaded Mamazine contributor and this from Slates about the downsides of "redshirting." Time for a Kindergarten counter-revolution.


  1. This is a tough one. I totally see that the red shirting thing isn't great for society, but schools do make things hard on kids. We don't have any four year old kindergarteners in Texas, but we do have pre-K for low-income four year olds. Our cut off is in the first week of September so my Halloween birthday girl got the extra year, which meant she, a new 6, aced the GT test they give in the fall of K and got to go to the good public elementary for smarty pants kids (with late birthdays, as far as I can tell). My little one has a June birthday and may not be ready to sit through a 4 hour test as a young 5 - so she may have to go to a crappy school instead - we'll see. I know we should just have better options for everyone - but we don't.

  2. Like M, Eliś a spring baby so my only complaint about Eliś kindergarten was the length of the day. He and his, mostly boy classmates, were kept darned busy from 8 to 3 and seemed exhausted all year.
    If it had been half a day, I never would have blinked.
    If however I was a kindergarten teacher with a roomful of boys, I would have been tempted to pick wearing them out over all other options.


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