D’s birthday is in January, so he’s in the middle of his class age-wise, one of the smallest kids, one of the most advanced academically. One of his good friends, with a July birthday, is doing "junior kindergarten" this year — but he has some sensory issues, and I know his teacher were worried about his ability to stay on task. It’s not clear how much easier he’s going to find it next year, though. N’s birthday is in October, so he’ll be nearly 6 before he starts Kindergarten. If I didn’t know that other parents were likely to be holding their summer-birthday kids back a year, I might be in the school office, arguing to let him start a year early. I was 4 when I started school (November birthday, December cutoff) and didn’t suffer.
I think the points the author made about the class issues are real ones — redshirting kindergarteners is definitely an upper-middle class phenomenon — but am unconvinced that it matters in the scheme of class inequities in education. For one thing, I’m doubtful that many poor kids are going to be sitting in the same classrooms as those redshirted kids. EdWeek has a new tool out that lets you generate reports for any school district in the country on graduation rates and school segregation levels. I took a look at the one for Alexandria and was shocked to see that its school system scores a .78 (on a 0 to 1 scale) for racial segregation and a .52 for socioeconomic segregation. Those numbers are far higher than average for either Virginia or the country as a whole, but what makes them really shocking is that all the segregation is in the elementary schools — there’s only one high school (TC Williams, of Remember the Titans fame) and two middle schools.
And we’re not talking separate but equal either. My friend who has her kindergartener in one of the predominantly white, middle-class, active PTA schools has been told that her son has been identified as gifted and talented (even though the pull out activities don’t start until 3rd grade) and invited to come in for a meeting to discuss the curriculum. I’m quite confident that if any such process were happening at D’s school, we’d have heard about it. We haven’t.
A year ago, in my post about the decision to send D to this school, I wrote " What I worry about is whether they’ll learn that school is something to be endured." I do think this fear has somewhat come true. D’s bored a fair amount of the time at school — his biggest complaint is that it takes up too much of his day. And the whole class often loses privileges when some kids misbehave. D’s counting days to the end of school. And frankly, I am too.