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September 21, 2007 - 3:47 am

I read a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0446580961?ie=UTF8tag=wwwviolentkicomlinkCode=as2camp=1789creative=9325creativeASIN=0446580961″emMicrotrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes/em/aimg src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=wwwviolentkicoml=as2o=1a=0446580961″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”" style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” / yesterday and while I disagree with much of what author Marc Penn (chief advisor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign) has to say–like the Republican Party is losing membership, its identity and is ripe for a breakup–haven’t Democrats been saying that for the last 20 years? (yawn)–there is some good data that is worth contemplating. The book is divided into a number of chapters that identify microtrends in “religion, leisure, politics and family life that are changing the way we live.” The trend that caught my eye was in a chapter entitled, “Smart Child Left Behind: Kindergarten Hold-Backs in America.” br /br /Penn points out that the big trend in education today is “holding kids back.” And the odd thing is, the smarter the child is, the more likely they are to be held back. br /br /blockquoteIt’s called “red-shirting,” after the practice of keeping college athletes out a year while they grow bigger. A U.S. Department of Education report issued in 2005 suggested that nearly 10 percent of American students in kindergartern were actually eligible to have enrolled the year before. br /br /Who’s doing this? The typical red-shirt child is a boy, with white, well-educated parents. So well educated that they know how good it feels to be at the top of their class–and they want that for their children, even if their children are currently smaller, less advanced, less developed, or less capable than their peers. So–ever the problem-solvers–they sign them up for peers who are one year younger./blockquotebr /br /Schools have also gotten in on the act and do what Penn refers to as pink–shirting: br /br /blockquoteIn the past twenty-five years–in reaction to bold new standards in the 1980′s that aimed to make American’s elementary schools more rigorous–nearly every state in the union rolled back it’s kindergarten cut-off date from December to about September, effectively edging the younger 5-year-olds right into next year’s class…br /br /The emChicago Tribune /emhas called it “the graying of kindergarten.”br / br /Whereas virtually nobody used to be 6 in kindergarten, now a serious chunk of children are, including nearly 1 in 5 boys. /blockquotebr /br /My question is, is holding a smart boy out of school for a year really good for boys? People say that boys mature slower than girls so maybe it’s a good thing but I’m not so sure. As Penn points out, “most studies of red-shirted students have concluded that they do no better than their younger classmates in the long term, and that any short-term gains disappear by third grade.” br /br /Think about it, a smart boy is sitting in class, a year older and wiser than his peers and graduates at 19 year old. His life and adulthood is put on hold another year and he is in high school at an age where he can vote, marry and join the military. Perhaps in the short run, it might be helpful but it could also be contributing to why so many boys–especically smart ones–don’t like school. The curriculum is already dumbed down and now you are a year behind. After this experience, it’s no wonder that many smart young men have decided to skip college.

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