Childhood: we missed that

The corporate reform of education, led by Bill Gates et al., sets college graduation as the end-goal of all learning. So, it is no surprise that policy makers, having drunk the Gates Kool-aid, would impose draconian measures on public schools, focused on Common Core and testing ad infinitum. After all, how are kids going to find their way to university if they haven’t mastered the elements of one-size-fits-all curricula? While we’re at it, let’s hold teachers “accountable” via their students’ test scores. Ah, that’s the ticket.

But, of course, this is all bullshit. There is no scientific basis whatsoever that No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, the two major pieces of federal legislation, work or even can work. Leave it to Americans to do it big and wrong. We don’t need no damn science or the lessons available from those who actually know what they’re doing when it comes to designing and operating superior education systems.

In their zeal to create college-ready automatons, the powers that be forgot at least one important factor: children are remarkably different in circumstance, desire, and ability. This is especially critical during early childhood development, which centers on play, socializing, and exploring immediate worlds.

A mother of a boy entering kindergarten wonders about the monsters produced by wrong-headed politicians and their wealthy benefactors. She also happens to possess a doctorate in educational policy. She wrote an essay for The Washington Post.

I’m sad that my son won’t experience kindergarten as a gentle transition into the rhythms of school, as a space primarily for exploration and play, and as a place where building strong relationships with adults and other children is the primary annual goal. I’m sad that our culture of testing and assessment has moved down to even the youngest grades.

And I’m angry. I’m angry that in kindergarten he may be expected to meet standards that are not developmentally appropriate for him. I’m angry that our educational system ignores what research and evidence from other countries tells us is best for our children’s emotional, social, and academic lives.

I want to protect my son’s childhood, and I want him to grow and learn at his own pace. Increasingly, the early grades of our country’s public schools are not the place for kids like him — kids who are not ready at five to become “proficient” readers and writers — to thrive.

In a footnote, we’re told that the mother has enrolled her son in a local Waldorf school, which does not answer to the beat of the draconian drummer.