By the time kindergarteners hit kindergarten, they’ll have had a year to reflect on what it means to be human, how they feel about themselves, and whether they’re ready for a career in a career-focused school.
And they’ll also have been told that a public school is for them.
That is, unless they have a special need for the education system.
“When you’ve got a kid who’s not ready for that education, it’s not a great place for them,” said Dr. Daniel M. Greenberg, a psychiatrist and director of the Child Development Program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
The New York Times reported that parents of kindergarteners who received “high” scores on the new test have experienced a “chronic lack of confidence” and “fear that if they don’t learn how to use technology, they won’t learn anything.”
And this isn’t just a New York problem.
A growing number of states have instituted “pre-K” programs.
In some states, pre-K is mandatory for kindergartners and their parents.
“We’re seeing these kids who are at a really high level of achievement,” said Jennifer M. Loeffler, the president and CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The new testing comes as a national debate about the quality of education is heating up, with states, teachers unions, and even the U.S. Department of Education threatening to withhold millions of dollars in federal funds if they aren’t prepared to improve the quality and accountability of American schools.
It’s an issue that has drawn national attention, with a number of prominent leaders, including President Barack Obama, pledging to increase funding to schools and schools to address the crisis.
“There is a clear crisis of confidence among kids who aren’t in a good place,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
And yet, many parents and teachers are reluctant to talk about their own concerns about the state of education, or the school environment.
“I have a lot of respect for the work that our teachers are doing, but we can’t let this be a problem for our children,” said Elizabeth C. Young, a mother of a first-grade student.
Young said she and her husband decided to enroll their children in kindergarten, and when they returned home, they realized that they had no idea what to do with their little boy.
“It was heartbreaking,” she said.
Young told me that when she and other parents began to receive the test results, their concerns about “prez-style” schools became “a little more nuanced,” and the school district asked them to explain why they thought it was important for their kids.
The answers they gave were a bit more than they had anticipated.
“In terms of my kids’ education, I feel like we were being told that there are really a lot more than what we were told,” said Young.
“You know, we know it’s a very, very good system, but there is also a lot that needs to be improved.”
For some parents, the answers they were given didn’t make sense.
“They said, ‘The kids are just so smart, they’re just so good, they can’t be doing this,'” said Krista Young, who said that her son was placed in a special education program and then placed in the special education classroom.
“But what does that mean?”
Young added that she believed that the district “really wanted to do it because they were afraid that they were going to have a problem with their kids if they went to a non-special education classroom.”
But other parents are taking their concerns more seriously, as they have found a new way to get involved in the debate.
In May, the California Department of Family and Protective Services launched a pilot program in which teachers from public schools will be assigned to homes with “high-needs” children.
This pilot program is part of a broader effort to improve education in schools that are struggling to meet standards.
“The goal is to make sure that the kids are well-prepared, that the teachers are well trained, that they have the appropriate skills to be able to be successful in that environment,” said Melissa B. Bousquet, a coordinator for the program.
Boudquess told me her goal is “to get every parent who’s a teacher or who has worked in a school district or who knows somebody who is a teacher and help them understand the problems that they’re facing, to come in and see what we’re doing.”
The program is being launched in Los Angeles County and has already been expanded in some other communities.
In the past year, the Los Angeles Public Schools has opened up a kindergarten and third grade curriculum that emphasizes reading and math skills, as well as special education and English language arts.
But teachers are hesitant to say they are “going to do anything,” despite the pilot program.
In a letter to parents, Boudquin said,