When children aren’t reading according to the corporate time frame set by Jeb Bush and his ilk (non-educators who want to privatize public education), parents become dissatisfied, even angry with public school officials and teachers when their children fail.
The goal of many corporations is to end public education. They want privatization. To do this, they must make parents dislike public schools so they will not only leave them, but will buy into unproven vouchers, charters, and online programs.
But most of today’s accountability measures are enforced by corporate reformers outside of the public school. Teaching children to read is no exception.
Here’s an example.
Due to former Governor Jeb Bush’s push for flunking, 19 states now make children repeat 3rd grade if they don’t pass a test.
Strong research indicates flunking is harmful, and that there are other viable solutions to help children learn to read. Most parents and teachers recognize this. Here’s another list of better solutions.
It’s difficult to believe Jeb Bush and his corporate friends have not heard about this research too. But concerns remain ignored, and flunking is adopted in more states. This insistence that third graders pass a test or flunk filters down to kindergarten.
Children Should Not Be Forced to Learn How to Read In Kindergarten!
Parents and teachers heavily push reading earlier than is appropriate, because it would seem like getting children to read as soon as possible will ensure passage of the 3rd grade test. Many schools bypass art, science, and other subjects that make reading interesting.
To put this in perspective, in Finland, students don’t begin formal reading until 3rd grade! Finnish students have always excelled.
In the U.S., fearing a child will flunk third grade means forcing reading. Children are aware of adult concern about how they learn to read. Reading becomes a hurdle instead of an enjoyable process.
When kindergartners don’t like reading and do it poorly, public schools fall short on remediation programs. Even if a child has a learning disability they might not get the needed services because so many children struggle due to being forced to read too soon!
Kindergarten never used to be where and when children were expected to master reading! Mostly, children learned the ABCs. Kindergarten was a half day involving play and socialization, like Finnish children are schooled today.
But with the looming fear of third grade retention, parents are alarmed for good reason. Kindergarten is no longer joyful or the “garden,” its original German definition. It’s dominated by assessment and forced reading and writing exercises that raise fear in children. This is due to the concern that children won’t read by third grade and will fail the test and be retained.
Since NCLB and RttT, reading standards have increasingly been raised to where kindergarten is now called the new first grade. Here is the abstract to that report.
Recent accounts suggest that accountability pressures have trickled down into the early elementary grades and that kindergarten today is characterized by a heightened focus on academic skills and a reduction in opportunities for play. This paper compares public school kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2010 using two large, nationally representative data sets. We show substantial changes in each of the five dimensions considered: kindergarten teachers’ beliefs about school readiness, time spent on academic and nonacademic content, classroom organization, pedagogical approach, and use of standardized assessments. Kindergarten teachers in the later period held far higher academic expectations for children both prior to kindergarten entry and during the kindergarten year. They devoted more time to advanced literacy and math content, teacher-directed instruction, and assessment and substantially less time to art, music, science, and child-selected activities.
Parents and educators need to get back to reading instruction that is developmentally appropriate. Otherwise children will continue to be forced to read too soon, they will not get the services they need with vouchers and unproven charters, and massive numbers of children will continue to flunk, due to no fault of their own. Children will unnecessarily see themselves as failures, likely for the rest of their lives.