A Letter From The Other Side

Last Saturday, The Washington Post published The Case to Stay Home, a letter from Jennifer Wolff of Bowie, Md., who was responding to reporter Amy Joyce's Outlook article How to Handle the Return. Ms. Wolff, who described herself as a "full-time mother and homemaker," advised the pregnant Ms. Joyce to "follow her heart," which she clearly believed meant staying home full-time once her baby arrives in June.

While I disagree with Ms. Wolff -- following your heart can also mean continuing to work once becoming a mom -- she went on to say something I fully endorse: "The Post, with all its working mothers, seems to almost exclusively print the viewpoints of mothers who work outside the home."

Ms. Wolff is correct. A great deal of mainstream media coverage neglects the views of moms (and dads) who stay home. When mothers and fathers leave work, their voices, unfortunately, often get silenced because they are no longer holding a pen or microphone or book contract. The people who are still at work control the messages, policies and procedures that everyone reads and hears and sees.

Turn on your TV, open a newspaper or stop by your favorite bookstore to see what I mean.

In the past twelve months, two high-profile books were published whose titles -- The Feminine Mistake and Get to Work -- belittled stay-at-home moms for the foolishness of their choice not to work.

My Baby or My Job? -- the headline for a recent Oprah Winfrey show -- suggested a binary choice: If you choose your baby, forget about ever getting back to paid work.

After Years Off, Women Struggle to Revive Careers was the grim message delivered by a 2004 Wall Street Journal profile of moms who had destroyed their careers by staying home.

Time Magazine, 60 Minutes, the New York Times and other national news sources have run similar stories in the past five years. Almost all of these stories were written or produced by working mothers. Having made the choice to continuing working, it's obvious we working mothers have conscious or unconscious biases that our choice is the superior one.

For the 81 million mothers in America, no single choice is "superior." More often than not, it's not even a choice. Roughly 70 percent of mothers with children 18 and under must work for financial reasons. Many others stay home for financial reasons; their wages don't cover child care. Even parents with bona fide "choices" face a pathetically limited decision set because our country's employers and our government do very little to make it feasible for both parents to work full-time and raise children with peace of mind. Neither the working or at-home lifestyle should be judged as superior or inferior by outsiders. However, too often, even supposedly objective news coverage presents one lifestyle or another as the better one.

So, bravo to Ms. Wolff for writing "from the other side." And ditto to The Post for printing her views.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 29, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  You Go Girl!
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Bravo for writing from the other side. Too much media coverage produced by working moms.

Posted by: APMomof3 | May 29, 2007 7:04 AM

"... because our country's employers and our government do very little to make it feasible for both parents
to work full-time and raise children..."

What do yer mean?

Free childcare for 30 hours a week from grades 1 through 12 in public school and now most jurisdictions are moving to full day kindergarten too. Give the govment a little credit where its due.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 29, 2007 7:14 AM

You are kidding right?

Posted by: evkoehle | May 29, 2007 7:16 AM

Public school is not free childcare, Fo4. An educated population is a public good that benefits our entire society. The gov't didn't institute it to help parents balance work and family.

And what about the five years until the kids are ready for school?

Posted by: Leslie | May 29, 2007 7:38 AM

What I liked best about Ms. Wolff's letter is that she clearly had no doubts about her choice. I think there are many stay-at-home moms on this blog, myself included, who are self-conscious about that decision, for whatever reasons.

It's good to hear from someone who is just plain doing it and happy to be. I'm sure there will be some snarky comments to come about her choice (including those who will say she must be wealthy to be able to do it), but her message was too short for us to know much about her plans or situation. I think we do talk so much more about working moms that we forget that many women who choose to stay at home are just ordinary folks, not wealthy wives or former lawyers, but women who just plain believe that what they're doing is the best for their families. And why does that have to be a bad thing?

Posted by: writing mommy | May 29, 2007 7:45 AM

"Even parents with bona fide "choices" face a pathetically limited decision set because our country's employers and our government do very little to make it feasible for both parents to work full-time and raise children with peace of mind."

Leslie,

Most employers -- and certainly the USG -- make it make more feasible for both parents to work full-time. The advance of flexible hours, telecommuting and such is real and widespread.

What employers don't do and can't do is make it possible for both parents to have high-end careers that require long hours and travel while raising children. Some parents [typically at the high end of the income spectrum where purchasing assistance is an option] are certainly able to pull this off -- but most simply can't.

These high-end careers typically require heavy time investment during one's 20's and 30's -- at the same time that many people are looking to start families. For those who make this investment in time, the financial rewards can be great. Financially, it is often more lucrative to have one spouse focused on obtaining this high level as opposed to both spouses employed but neither able to make the sacrifices necessary for high-end advancement.

Posted by: A Dad | May 29, 2007 7:46 AM

Leslie: The leap of logic in your blog is just breathtaking. First you say "...too often, even supposedly objective news coverage presents one lifestyle or another as the better one." And then in the very next sentence you say "bravo to Ms. Wolff for writing 'from the other side.'"

Ms. Wolff is certainly entitled to her opinion and it's a free country so she can say what she wants. But she's certainly not objective and she most definitely is presenting one lifestyle as better than another.

So what's the point? That professional writers take the side of working mothers and it's up to SAHMs to defend themselves? I don't think that's what you're trying to say but that's how it's reading to me.

Posted by: m | May 29, 2007 7:56 AM

This constant "SAH is better, no, working is!" bickering is ridiculous. Each woman, each mother, has to make that decision for themselves, based on their own unique situation. For some staying at home and raising their children is best for them, for others returning to work is best.

Why is that so hard for everyone to understand? There's no right/wrong on this issue.

Posted by: John L | May 29, 2007 7:59 AM

Get your spring-loaded shoes ready!

Posted by: Shark Bait | May 29, 2007 8:00 AM

I can't say I've ever felt underrepresented in the media as a SAHM. There seems to be no shortage of people on both sides of the aisle who are willing to make money off of telling other people they're wrong.

Bottom line, I don't need someone to validate my choice in the media. I like the state of my life right now, with or without magazine articles by others in my position.

Bsides, Leslie overlooks the blogosphere in her assertion that SAHMs are underrepresented. If I want to read about other parents in a similar situation to mine, all I have to do is mosey on over to ClubMom or browse blogger. There are scores, if not hundreds, of us sharing our experiences in blogs.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 29, 2007 8:02 AM

Here's the thing: the working women I know are the ones who are conflicted. Am I making the right choice to work? Should I cut back to part-time? Should I quit altogether? Are my kids okay? Should I switch to a different nanny/day care?

The stay at home moms I have known are not conflicted. They might be bored sometimes from the tedium of their day-to-day (and I know whereof I speak, so don't tell me it isn't at least sometimes tedium). They might be annoyed or frustrated at having to try to figure out how to scrimp yet again. But they don't worry about whether their children would be better off if they went back to work. They just don't.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 29, 2007 8:03 AM

Either my wife or I would love stay at home with our daughter. Unfortuantely, no one is willing to pay us to do that. So, if we want to continue to live in the DC area we both must work. End of discussion.

Posted by: DS | May 29, 2007 8:05 AM

This is getting really old.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 8:07 AM

"I think we do talk so much more about working moms that we forget that many women who choose to stay at home are just ordinary folks, not wealthy wives or former lawyers, but women who just plain believe that what they're doing is the best for their families."

"For some staying at home and raising their children is best for them, for others returning to work is best."

_____

I am 100% certain that what I am doing is best for my family. Also, I am raising my children, despite all the ignorant comments by those who think the only way to raise children is to be with them 24/7. I am not conflicted in the least about my decision to work and never have been.


Posted by: Proud Mom who works | May 29, 2007 8:24 AM

M -- the point is that the six million at-home parents don't have a voice in mainstream media and so we don't hear their views as often as we should to have a truly "balanced" society.

the internet is changing this. now you do not have to be a working journalist to have a voice. i wouldn't call the mommy blogs and stay-at-home dad blogs "mainstream" just yet, but they are gaining influence and present an important way for parents who are not working outside the home to make sure their views are heard too.

Posted by: Leslie | May 29, 2007 8:27 AM

Proud Mom who works,

Why call someone's comment about staying home to raise their children "ignorant"? If you're happy with your decision, there's no need to label anyone's different opinion, just ignore it, just as those who stay home don't need to listen to the opinions of those who work.

All this arguing does is make money for people who want to keep the argument going.

Posted by: John L | May 29, 2007 8:33 AM

WorkingMomX -- My experience is the opposite of yours. The stay-at-home moms I know are the most frustrated and worried about what they've given up for their kids, and what will they do when their children are grown in the not-too-distant future. They don't feel guilty -- maybe that is what you are referring to. But they do feel, acutely, the lack of "balance" between work and kids in their lives, since they have chosen (or been forced to choose) the 100% kids route for now. I also see that their choice increases the pressure on them and their kids to be "perfect" -- since the moms have given up their jobs to be home, raising kids to a T becomes more imperative.

Working moms express more guilt, sleep deprivation, stress and a general sense of chaos and like there is never nearly enough time. But the working moms I know don't have as many secret doubts about their choice being right for themselves and their families, and they don't worry as much about "what will I do when my kids grow up." I also think, in general, their children are more independent.

Posted by: Leslie | May 29, 2007 8:34 AM

I will give you $65,000 a year. All you have to do is limit your time with your child to 3 hours a day during the week. Any takers?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 8:34 AM

I earn $65K per year, and I spend more than 5 hours per day with my kids.

I'm not trading.

Posted by: Carol | May 29, 2007 8:39 AM

You can always look for jobs outside DC. While the jobs were better in DC, we realized we didn't want all our money going to housing and all our time going to long commutes. So we moved to Baltimore, took a small pay cut and after saving for a while, my wife should be able to stay home with son. I now have a 15 minute commute and don't miss working in DC at all. Just a suggestion...

Posted by: To DS | May 29, 2007 8:39 AM

Sorry, I meant to say that I spend more than 5 hours per day with my kids, during the workweek.

Posted by: Carol | May 29, 2007 8:40 AM

"Public school is not free childcare"

Leslie, I realize the intention of public schools is to educate the populus, but as rediculus as the notion is, if I wanted instruction in a specific discipline, like music or chemistry, I have to pay for it. That's because I'm an adult. Public school is for children only.

Personally, my wife and I are looking forward to my littlest one attending kindergarten next year, mostly because of the spare time that will be created for my wife, which by the way, will also have economic ramifications. She will be able to schedule working hours during the school day.

I would also like to point out that when I was 5 years old, kindergarten was optional and there were only half day slots in private schools only.

In one generation, publicly funded full day kindergarten has been made mandatory.

There are proposals to mandate publically funded pre-schools for children right now.

Do you see where this is going? I agree that there are merits to filling up a kid's head with information, but I suspect the political motivation to offer free childcare, or education if you want to call it that, will be based more on personal economics rather than anything else.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 29, 2007 8:41 AM

"I also think, in general, their children are more independent."

Mine are not only more independent, they're very capable. Interestingly enough, the SAHPs of my acquaintance were shocked to find out that their children have fewer chores & activities than mine.

Now they are trying to get their kids caught up. To date, my eldest child is the only one of the little bunch who makes a point of cooking dinner for the family, 3 days per week. At the tender age of 13. It's pretty darned good too!

Posted by: Carol | May 29, 2007 8:44 AM

writing mommy, I was also struck by how secure in her choice Jennifer is. Being happy with your choice, whatever it is, is the important thing. I know, and have known, plenty of conflicted moms in all of their current choices. Being free of conflict and being secure in your choice is the ideal.

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 8:48 AM

I take care of my kids and don't worry about a job!

Posted by: Nurse Shark | May 29, 2007 8:53 AM

totally agree with you Leslie-- I was SAHM and was very conflicted about it. I was concerned that I was wasting my education and I certainly put more pressure on myself for things to be perfect. Now that I'm back at work, I do feel more in balance, although I have less time for reading, excersizing, and household projects. Child seems just fine though-- in fact I think he is better off for being in the loving care of multiple individuals and the greater exposure to other kids.He is much more secure, brave, and independant than I was at his age.

I think it is great to get SAHM voices in the mainstream. I'd like to hear their response to your comment that their children are generally less independent than kids whose parents both work. I imagine they would disagree that having a SAHM makes children less independant-- that in fact what is more likely is that is a parent sees that her child is more dependant for some reason, the parent is more likely to stay at home with the child than if the child indicated greater independance.

Correlation, not causation, etc.

Just a hunch!

Posted by: Jen S. | May 29, 2007 8:54 AM

F04,
I understand your points. Consider the city of Pittsburgh, where the minimum age to attend Kindergarten is 4 1/2 and the date is January 31st to be 5. What you had entering the public schools were young 4 1/2 minority kids getting their free childcare (who cares if they may be too young for kindergarten, they can always repeat) in the same classroom with affluent white 6 year olds. As an aside, I deplored this because it set minority kids up to think of themselves as failures and affluent white kids as being better than others.

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 8:55 AM

"I imagine they would disagree that having a SAHM makes children less independant-- that in fact what is more likely is that is a parent sees that her child is more dependant for some reason, the parent is more likely to stay at home with the child than if the child indicated greater independance."

Sounds like the same parents who upon seeing little child fall down, rush over with, "Are you hurt! Are you HURT?!" hysterics, and then wonder whey they have such a timid, fearful child. Versus the other sort of parents who wait, give out a kiss if warranted, and tell them to go back out and play.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 8:58 AM

I took a $15000 pay cut for a better schedule when I became a single Dad. Life was tough but the boys and I were tough together.

Posted by: willandjansdad | May 29, 2007 8:58 AM

Off topic, the following article regarding "family responsibility discrimination" might be of interest.

http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1180083923365

Posted by: BLE | May 29, 2007 9:06 AM

I stayed home for the first 8 years of motherhood and, during that time, definitely felt the Post had a decidedly pro-working moms slant. I would have had a very strong--negative--reaction to Wolff's article. I could not have imagined putting an infant in daycare or leaving them with a nanny--even if we could have afforded it.

In retrospect, though, it turned out that maybe I should have been more open-minded; here I am, having returned to work after an 8 year at-home stint, divorced and making 50% less than my ex-husband, who enjoyed the benefit of never having to have given so much as a thought to childcare. Even though I wholeheartedly believe that my choice to stay home was the right one for my kids--and for that reason can't say I have any regrets--I am the first to admit that it was not the right choice for me. I was miserable, isolated from any social interaction other than playgroup, stuck in a horrible marriage for financial reasons, and just plain bored.

But live and learn, I guess--if the worst things that came out of my years as a stay-home mom were that I was not happy and that it's going to take some time to re-establish myself in the workplace, then poor me. I just wish I had given myself the freedom to even consider making a different choice, instead of being so vehemently opposed to viewpoints such as Wolff's.


Posted by: Maggie | May 29, 2007 9:13 AM

i believe ever child has a unique sense of self from the very beiginning. My child had his own personality fro the very get go! I seriously doubt that my staying at home with him made any real difference in the development of his personality one way or the other. When I saw that he was comfortable playing with lots of kids and that that he didn't mind being watched over by someone besides his parents, that made ME more more comfortable about putting him in daycare.

If i had reacted to my child's injury the way that 8:58 discribes, it would not have made him any less independant-- he probably would have been very angry and annoyed with mommy making such a fuss over nothing though. But some kids would lap it up-- but that is something inherent to that child.

If parenting were only so easy as "If you do X, then the child will do Y"-- the fact is they are all totally unique little beings and circumstances of having a SAHM will effect different children differently-- soem for the good, some for the bad, and I believe that parents will try to provide the circumstances that are the best for that child.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 29, 2007 9:14 AM

John L.

The comment, and those like it, was ignorant because it implies that women who go back to work are not raising their children. That is absurd and that was my point. I agree that everyone must make the decision that works for their family.

Posted by: Proud Mom who works | May 29, 2007 9:15 AM

I can't believe I'm commenting. I've been a SAHM for 8 years. Six months ago I landed a great part time job. The job is extremely flexible. I can work as little or as much as I want. I can choose to work 20 hours/month or 100 hours/month - I would love to work alot more hours, but because of childcare choices I'm going to wait. I have about a year and half (late year baby) before my 4 year old can start kinder. I can't wait to be out in the workforce. I'm in my mid 30's, I've never worked outside the home, I enjoy being a SAHM but... - the childcare conflict is the only reason why I am not working full time. I CAN'T WAIT TO BE OUT THERE doing what I love.

Posted by: getting closer | May 29, 2007 9:16 AM

We never seem to say enough about the SAH vs WOH debate. Again, I think there are situations in between the two. Part time, flexible hours, home for a few years back to work after a few are just some of our options. We need to see all our options. There are always going to be people who don't think they could leave their child for a single day with a babysitter. And there will always be some people who will continue to work 60+ hours a week and have children. But most people fall somewhere in between. I know SAHMs and WOHMs who are happy and those who are unhappy. It is usually not their work status that defines their happiness. Side note-sorry I missed the DINK discussion on Friday. Great topic by the way.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 29, 2007 9:22 AM

"Having made the choice to continuing working, it's obvious we working mothers have conscious or unconscious biases that our choice is the superior one."

What? Speak for yourself, Leslie! I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only working mom in the world who doesn't think that her choice is "superior" to someone else's.

Posted by: randommom | May 29, 2007 9:26 AM

"i believe ever child has a unique sense of self from the very beiginning. My child had his own personality fro the very get go! I seriously doubt that my staying at home with him made any real difference in the development of his personality one way or the other."

I have to agree with this totally. What I find my working PT does for our family is simply give us more time and breathing space. It really doesn't change who we are.

In my toddler's case right now this is running away from me at the park towards the other kids. :-) If he were in daycare FT he would be running away from the staff.

I think there is a kernel of truth in the dependent/independent thing in that a child who mostly is at home/out with her family is probably a bit more hesitant in new situations - up to a certain age, like grade two. But after that I suspect there isn't that much difference.

Posted by: Shandra | May 29, 2007 9:31 AM

An interesting article in the WSJ was on my desk this morning . . .

"Government Eases Path for Parents to Sue Employers"

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117995316999912505.html?mod=rss_PJ_Main

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 29, 2007 9:32 AM

I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only working mom in the world who doesn't think that her choice is "superior" to someone else's.

Who is this? Snow White? Never looked down your nose at someone who was using vouchers to pay for groceries, for example. Never once clucked your tongue over the choices that "those people" are making?

That's like saying, "Everybody is friends here! We don't have a problem with cliques!" Only those who ARE the problem would say such a thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 9:35 AM

Proud Mom Who Works,
I think you are being too sensitive. I did not see the comment as in any way disparaging a working mom's choice to work. It sounds to me like you are being unnecessarily defensive.

Posted by: Emily | May 29, 2007 9:37 AM

Fo4 -- I think you are totally out to lunch on your view about public school. It is a basic economic concept -- that the government provides certain "goods" that benefit the entire population. The best examples are: highways, sidewalks, fire depts and public schools. Public schools were never designed to help working parents juggle their responsibilities. They were incorporate to benefit the US by ensuring a minimal level of education for everyone, back in the day when only very wealthy children were educated and child labor was common.

Posted by: Leslie | May 29, 2007 9:37 AM

Fo4 -- I think you are totally out to lunch on your view about public school. It is a basic economic concept -- that the government provides certain "goods" that benefit the entire population. The best examples are: highways, sidewalks, fire depts and public schools. Public schools were never designed to help working parents juggle their responsibilities. They were incorporate to benefit the US by ensuring a minimal level of education for everyone, back in the day when only very wealthy children were educated and child labor was common.

Posted by: Leslie | May 29, 2007 9:38 AM

"Roughly 70 percent of mothers with children 18 and under must work for financial reasons."

But let's make certain to tell them that they are "unnatural", "unfit", "uncaring", "selfish", "inferior mothers" and then wonder why they don't like it.

Huh.

"I am raising my children, despite all the ignorant comments by those who think the only way to raise children is to be with them 24/7. I am not conflicted in the least about my decision to work and never have been."

It is ignorant to state that the only, or best, or the RIGHT way to raise a child is to have one parent at home 24/7/365(/18+). I would say mother, but there are fathers who stay at home too. Not many.

Posted by: York | May 29, 2007 9:47 AM

I just started reading this blog earlier this year. I thought it would eventually cover more helpful topics regarding work/life balance instead of debating basically the same topic(s) over and over again. Where is the discussion on how to negotiate a flexible schedule? What about discussing someone's long term plan to limit their schedule and level of job responsibility for a few years, then get back in the workplace. Or how to budget for one spouse to cut back their hours. Most topics seem to discuss only all or nothing alternatives. Let's leave these boring debates for Meredith Viera's segments on the Today show.

Posted by: Millie | May 29, 2007 9:49 AM

"belittled stay-at-home moms for the foolishness of their choice not to work."

I really do not believe that these books "belittle" stay at home mothers. When I have read the negative things that have been written about these books on this blog, I actually looked them over and found that they speak the truth. The truth may hurt. Becoming a "stay at home" mother is a CHOICE. If a women decides to make that choice, she needs to be aware of the consequences of that choice and I believe many women do understand that and choose it anyway. There is absolutely nothing wrong with rolling the dice in life (that you will stay married, that your spouse will always have steady employment, that my spouse will survive, etc.). Personally if I were to be in a position to need to make this decision, I'd want to know these things (that I may have a lot of trouble getting back in, that I could be left in dire straits) so that I can prepare for these things. Some of the types of preparation have been discussed here and elsewhere: staying in the loop in your field, networking, meaningful volunteerism, saving money, etc. It is my personal opinion that "staying at home" is probably not the best choice for anyone, but again, not my choice for others and I have plenty of stay at home friends and can understand why they chose what they did (all of whom now have school age kids and smartly kept themselves involved in their fields).

So I don't agree with you about the books.

But I do agree Fo4 is out of touch.


Posted by: working mother | May 29, 2007 9:54 AM

DD age 5 1/2 had 2 1/2 with me as a SAHM and the last three years in day care. She has learned from both experiences and I confident she will be ready for kindergarten in the fall.

Right now we have the ideal situation on site day care. We forgot her blanket this morning no big deal we came up to my office and got my sweater. I will also be able to use the on site day care for all the days Montgomery County does not school.

Posted by: shdd | May 29, 2007 9:56 AM

What have you got against Meredith Vieira? She seems like nice lady who's worked hard, even made career tradeoffs to achieve balance in her life between family and work.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 9:58 AM

"The Problem with Daycare"

http://www.taemag.com/issues/articleid.16929/article_detail.asp

Long but worth it

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 10:00 AM

To 9:35-
Yes, there really _are_ working moms who don't think they're superior to SAHMs. Does that shock you?
How odd to have to justify not judging other people. Although I am getting a mental picture of what you must be like...

Posted by: randdommom | May 29, 2007 10:10 AM

Why do you think Fo4 is out to lunch on his ideas? Come on, everyone counts down the days until school starts for their kid so they can reduce their childcare costs. Far too many kids start school too early chronologically so their parents can reduce childcare. In those cases, public school *is* childcare. Look at the ages of the kids in kindergarten! The youngest ones, the ones being pushed ahead into kindergarten too early, are often in monetarily-challenged families. Wealthier families hold their kids back a year (or attend private schools which insist on older ages anyways, in my experience).

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 10:11 AM

Getting Closer - Wow! It sounds llike you've landed a great gig. Congratulations on finding something so flexible. do you mind sharing a bit about the nature of your job? I'm curious.

Thank you.

Posted by: Friend | May 29, 2007 10:12 AM

Here we go again. Can't we accept that every woman's situation is different, and we all do our best to the make good decisions based on our circumstances?
It's nice to hear from others who feel 100% secure with the decisions they've made. And it's nice to hear from others like me who are a bit mixed up.
But it would be ideal to learn from others and figure out a way to support each other in finding balance, rather than debating issues that are by their very nature not black and white.

Posted by: Mama | May 29, 2007 10:12 AM

Leslie, Working Mother, "But I do agree Fo4 is out of touch."

I find it very difficult to accept that the fact that parents have the opportunity to send their school aged children off to the institution, whether educational or not, doesn't play anything less than a huge role in making the decision to stay at home or go to work.

Although the intention of public schools is education, there are other factors to be considered.

Out to lunch, Humph!

And just let me point out that back in the time I was in elementary and middle school, there was no such thing as aftercare. Nowadays, I don't know of a school that doesn't offer it.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 29, 2007 10:15 AM

The ironic thing about Ms Wolff's letter is that it's not really a view "from the other side" at all. It's a judgment from the other side, using flimsy logic, sweeping generalizations, and unsupported non-facts.

She's not saying, "this is my life and here's why I love it." She's saying, "this is the right life, and here's why you should emulate it."

Why are we giving encouragement to this kind of disingenuous crap?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 10:30 AM

let me point out that back in the time I was in elementary and middle school, there was no such thing as aftercare. Nowadays, I don't know of a school that doesn't offer it.

So? That was back in the day of the three-martini lunch too. And there were plenty of bored-out-of-their minds mothers back then too. Never read Erma Bombeck, have you? Start with "A Match Made in Heaven, or Too Tired to Have an Affair" where she watched plenty of her SAHM friends get left in the economic soup. And marveled that she was not one of them.

Have you said NO to your daughter regarding the thong yet?

Posted by: to Fo4 | May 29, 2007 10:33 AM

The first day of school after a long summer is known around our house as PLD.

Parents Liberation Day!

Posted by: Fred | May 29, 2007 10:33 AM

'The ironic thing about Ms Wolff's letter is that it's not really a view "from the other side" at all. It's a judgment from the other side, using flimsy logic, sweeping generalizations, and unsupported non-facts.

She's not saying, "this is my life and here's why I love it." She's saying, "this is the right life, and here's why you should emulate it."

Why are we giving encouragement to this kind of disingenuous crap?'

Because Leslie is conflicted. As she herself stated on the Montel show, just yesterday. She loved being a SAHM and wants to do it, but feels that she "can't".

She could sell the mansion, move somewhere else, rely upon public schools, work freelance, encourage her husband to take a less-stressful/less lucrative job, but that's not her choice. Her choice is to wring her hands and continue to feed into the "Let's get 'em!" attitude towards parents in general, and mothers in particular.

Posted by: York | May 29, 2007 10:36 AM

"But they don't worry about whether their children would be better off if they went back to work. They just don't."

I agree completely. And I think the further you get from metro areas, the more obvious this is - the only conflict I see with SAHMs is among those who have to go back to work because of changes in their financial situation, and they're conflicted because they're losing something that they valued greatly - spending their days with their children.

Leslie - with all due respect - perhaps your views about whether SAHMs are conflicted or not is skewed by your own experiences as a SAHM? Perhaps it's hard for you to understand why a successful woman is content with a choice to give up her career to spend more time with her children while they are very young?

I also think Father of 4 is right on the money with his comments. Just because public school isn't free daycare doesn't mean that a great majority of people treat it that way. Even among parents who don't "need" child care because they're SAHPs, I've heard the comment about how "half day kindergarten is too short! I don't have time to get anything done!" many, many times. Well, last time I checked, the state isn't providing your child with kindergarten so you can "get things done."


Posted by: momof4 | May 29, 2007 10:44 AM

I wanted to write something, but York beat me to it. We are encouraging poor quality journalism by being here.

Posted by: DCer | May 29, 2007 10:47 AM

Wolff says "Surely, being present to witness and enjoy the day-to-day journey of their child through life's milestones is worth any luxuries forgone. A parent can assuredly do a better job raising a child than a day-care provider or nanny; the parent is much more emotionally invested in the child."

Yes, we've hashed this over many times, but apparently it needs repeating (what's with the "brava," Leslie?) -- parents who work out of the home "witness and enjoy" their children's lives, and most certainly raise their children. My husband and I are both good parents and I am sick to death of the smug stay-at-home mommies who sit around feeling superior to us. I work hard at my job and do everything other moms do except change diapers and play duck-duck goose between 8 and 5 M-F. Get off your damn high horse, Ms. Wolff.

Posted by: Arlmom | May 29, 2007 10:48 AM

I don't have a problem with Meredith Viera. But, a lot of her Today stories related to children/parenting seem to all follow the same format: 1) take a hot-button issue, 2)show sort of an extreme view from one side, 3) allow her pyschologist/consultant to criticize the extreme view. My point was there is nothing really useful about repeating these kinds of debates over and over again.

Posted by: Millie | May 29, 2007 10:48 AM

Oh, and I also wanted to say that I don't really care if I'm represented in the media or not. Sure, it's nice to read about mothers who are content with their choice to be a SAHM as a break from the "you should be working because...." books and articles, but I don't need to have my pov represented in the media to be content with my own choice.

Part of being at peace with your choices is being able to be that way without having your choices justified by the rest of the world.

Posted by: momof4 | May 29, 2007 10:49 AM

Wow--Mommy Wars, again. Anyone ever notice how we never resolve this? I want to work, you want to stay home. You know what? I bet our kids will probably turn out just fine. I guess agreeing to disagree wouldn't work, since this blog wouldn't exist if it weren't for this topic. Oh well. I'll be back when the first shark is jumped.

Posted by: Mona | May 29, 2007 10:51 AM

boring! please jump the shark!!

Posted by: experienced mom | May 29, 2007 10:51 AM

Even among parents who don't "need" child care because they're SAHPs, I've heard the comment about how "half day kindergarten is too short! I don't have time to get anything done!" many, many times. Well, last time I checked, the state isn't providing your child with kindergarten so you can "get things done."
----

that is a willful misreading of such a comment. You know darn well what that parent's point was and you twisted it.

You are in denial of something and it's dripping out of your post. What are you in denial of? What are you running from?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 10:52 AM

"Because Leslie is conflicted. As she herself stated on the Montel show, just yesterday. She loved being a SAHM and wants to do it, but feels that she "can't"."

Really? I wish I'd seen this because it is exactly the opposite of what I got from Leslie's book. My memory is that she hated being a SAHM, was unhappy at home, constantly wanted to go back to work, and pretty much gave her husband an ultimatum to move back to DC (from the midwest somewhere?) so she could start working again.


Posted by: momof4 | May 29, 2007 10:52 AM

"You know darn well what that parent's point was and you twisted it. "

I do? Could you please enlighten me as to what that parent (actually, many parents) meant?


Posted by: momof4 | May 29, 2007 10:54 AM

Leslie,
Re your comment at 9:38:
"Public schools were never designed to help working parents juggle their responsibilities. They were incorporate to benefit the US by ensuring a minimal level of education for everyone, back in the day when only very wealthy children were educated and child labor was common."

If this is the case, then why are the government and school districts considering full-day kindergarden and year-round schools. This is not specifically because it is better for the children's learning. What do kids actually learn in kindergarden? Rather it is because it gives the perception that parents will not have to find things for the kids to do all Summer.

What an number of parents don't realize is that it will be HARDER to find child care or alternative activities during the four times a year their kids are off for 2-3 weeks. During the Summer, there are a number of activities geared towards school aged kids. When school is off in the middle of Winter for 2-3 weeks, DIPs (dual income parents) most likely will have to take off of work because these programs will no longer be available and only state-sponsored care will be readily available.

Summer camps and activities take advantage of the extended time to hire college students and other professionals who are not working during the Summer. Those resources will be rarer 2-3 weeks at a time throughout the year.

Posted by: Working Dad | May 29, 2007 11:00 AM

I also think Father of 4 is right on the money with his comments. Just because public school isn't free daycare doesn't mean that a great majority of people treat it that way. Even among parents who don't "need" child care because they're SAHPs, I've heard the comment about how "half day kindergarten is too short! I don't have time to get anything done!" many, many times. Well, last time I checked, the state isn't providing your child with kindergarten so you can "get things done."


Momof4, this is so true. It is almost a split right down the line between my SAHM friends and my working mom friends as to who wants have half day kindergarten, and who wants full day kindergarten. There is also a huge battle right now in Wake County (as I've posted about before) regarding traditional/year-round schools. Overwhelmingly in my circle/sphere, SAHMs really would prefer the traditional calendar, and the working moms want year-round along with before and after care options, so that job responsibilities aren't impacted trying to be home to get the kids on/off the bus. I am not being judgmental about either side, because as a working mom, dealing with the bus and track-out or summers off is very shortly going to be an issue that I deal with.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 29, 2007 11:01 AM

SUV sales up 25% - who on earth is still bying an SUV with gas prices like this?

Gas prices - robbery by the oil companies or our own fault?

WOuld you vote for a Mormon?

Is rebuilding New Orleans really such a good idea?

Fed Ex or UPS?

Favorite DC watering hole?

Posted by: shark topics | May 29, 2007 11:07 AM

Look mommy wars is a bunch of bs used to make people guilty and tear people apart

Can someone help me with some real solutions

1. What industries offer $20-$40 per hour paying jobs that require anywhere from 10-25 hours per week

2. Has job sharing ever actually worked

3. Are there any good recruitment headhunters that can find high paying part time jobs?

Thanks in Advance

Posted by: try something new | May 29, 2007 11:09 AM

I don't have a dog in the Wake county year round fight. But I found year round to be easier when the kids were younger and required some sort of day care options. 2-3 weeks off was just easier to organize. Sure, it seems to be constant, but it was easier.

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 11:09 AM

"[Leslie] could. . .encourage her husband to take a less-stressful/less lucrative job, but that's not her choice."

I don't know what field Leslie's husband is in, but in my husband's industry it's up or out. It would make no sense for him to change industries and go back to a starting salary at this point in his career.

I'm curious about the dad who took a $15K pay cut. It's hard for me to imagine that change buying many hours a week over the long term. Are people who have scaled back this way able to keep the hours from creeping up again? In what industries is this possible? Maybe in DC one can move from private industry to the public sector. It seems to me that in the private sector there's always someone willing to put in significantly more than forty hours a week to compete against someone trying to achieve work-life balance. I don't see this changing unless there's a shortage of people in a given industry.

Posted by: Marian | May 29, 2007 11:11 AM

Suggestions:

Nursing
Pronography
Prostitution
Top of the Line Hairdresser

Posted by: to try something new | May 29, 2007 11:12 AM

The irony for me is that before she was in school daycare was easier for DD. No teacher workdays, summer was already figured out, no silly two hour delays because they were predicting snow (this is a dc area phenomeon that is so ....). As for the aftercare in elementary school (sorry fof4 it isn't offered in middle school) It is helpful with those teacher workdays and convienent but you still have to PAY for it. The fees are income based so it can be helpful, but it is rarely free. And then it ends when school ends and the summer program doesn't start until a week later and ends two weeks before school starts (the camps are centralized and the teachers in the chosen elementary schools, need their rooms back to get ready) and the schools get these days off that those of us who work for private employers don't (I know parents who 'love' using vacation time on Columbus day).

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | May 29, 2007 11:14 AM

" . . . only state-sponsored care will be readily available."

And this is a problem because . . .? Not saying i can't imagine there are problems, but if you have something concrete to share, please do! thanks!

Posted by: Jen S. | May 29, 2007 11:15 AM

Re: school schedule

Oh for crying out loud. Do you people not remember why the schools were set up with 3 months off for the summer?

It wasn't so the kids could go play. It was so they could WORK during the summer.

The country isn't nearly as agrarian and it is far more mechanized than it was even 60 years ago. Honestly, we do not need children in the fields. And for those crops where you do need real people, hand-picking them, we have migrant workers. If you want to get worked up about something, you should get worked up on the behalf of migrant workers children. The company town still exists, and it is still a far cry from being a viable solution. Think about that the next time you complain about the price of strawberries. It would be far more expensive without coolie wages. No, farm workers are NOT subject to the minimum wage.

As for all those people who opt to "red-shirt" their 5 year olds, what's happening now is that fewer & fewer 5 year olds are in kindergarten, so they no longer are seen as the norm for behaviour, etc. Instead, the 6 yo's are seen as the median.

It takes a real big kid to be intellectually and physically superior to a five year old. I know it makes their mommies & daddies really proud.

Re: Leslie's viewpoint

If get a chance to see yesterday's Montel show, she stated that she wished she had been able to be a SAHM and regretted having to work.

Posted by: Nebraska | May 29, 2007 11:20 AM

Working Dad,

You are inadvertently conflating a number of unrelated topics and, I suspect, do not live in a high-growth area where school capacity is a hot-button issue.

Governments and school districts consider year-round schools for two reasons. First, it makes a heckuva lot more sense to offer year-round tracks than it does to operate on an agrarian calendar and spend the first 6 - 8 weeks of each traditional calendar year in review of the immediately preceding year's material. Second, we simply can't built schools fast enough to meet the demand we are seeing in our region. In order to take advantage of the capacity of a single facility to teach 1/3 more children, rather than have 1/3 of our kids in trailers, we have both an economic and educational incentive to question the agrarian calendar. Operating on 4 tracks, where each 25% of students is on a 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off schedule, is far less expensive than building new facilities and can be done NOW rather than in the 2 - 3 years it takes to build and bring a new school on line.

Governments and school districts are moving to full-day kindergarten because half-day is insufficient to take those furthest behind and make them ready for 1st grade. I also suspect you don't understand that the kindergarden curricula have moved beyond learning your numbers and letters and how to tie shoes. My daughter is about to graduate from kindergarten. She, and every child in her class, not only has learned all letters and numbers, but she knows how to read fluently on a phonics-based system, and can do addition and subtraction problems involving numbers between 0 and 20. Those topics represent only approx. 60% of what she learned this year. That level and depth of learning doesn't occur in a half-day program. Kindergarten 20 years ago was a year of socialization. Those days are gone. Woooohooooooo!

Our school system is shifting to year-round for the first time next year. In contrast to your comments about the availability of camps, etc., it is equally as easy to find child care and alternative camp activities during the four times a year kids are off for 2-3 weeks as it is when they are off during the summer. The offerors of camp and after-care programs respond to the market-need and all offer track-out programs for the same price, selection and frequency with which they used to offer summer programs.

Hiring has not been a problem for summer camp programs in our area. This is partly because most camps didn't hire many hig-school students in the first place. Those who did are hiring more college students, recent high school grads, college grads, etc.

Confine your comments to what you know about and they'll be more helpful.

Posted by: NC mom | May 29, 2007 11:21 AM

I wish I had the clarity of Jennifer Wolff and her confidence about the "right" decision. I was very conflicted and emotionally torn when I went back to work after my first child, even though I left him in the best care (imho) that my money could buy. I knew that my job at the time (and my paycheck) took many years to attain and it was hard to walk away from it. On the other hand, I had him after 3 years of infertility, and I felt terribly guilty of not being there for the "firsts". So, Amy Joyce's piece is much more in line with my thoughts at that time, and I feel that her questions were the same questions I was asking myself. However, life has a funny way of figuring it all out for you. I am still working but my kids are older and I am no longer so torn by leaving them. They understand that I have to work, because we talk to them about things like money and lifestyle. They don't like it but they accept it. In the long run, I think, they would appreciate and admire me. Having said that, I agree with Jennifer that toddlers who spend long hours in daycare don't care about mommy/daddy work.

Posted by: fedmom | May 29, 2007 11:32 AM

Jen S.:

State-sponsored care is not a bad thing, but it is not the best either. Most gov programs are not geared towards creativity and learning. They also tend toward mediocrity. That is why there is private schooling and aftercare in the first place. Not to segregate those children from the rest of the population, but to provide them with a better environment for learning and play.

Due to the pay scale, gov programs get the people who either love their jobs and don't care about the money, very rare, or pelple who aren't qualified to find anything else. If we give these part-timers a decent salary, and I'm talking $30-40/hr. or more for the DC area including overtime, then the market would provide better selection for hiring and the ability to jettison dead wood.

Posted by: Working Dad | May 29, 2007 11:33 AM

Ha-ha-ha. You people really don't think of the cashiers and clerks who are stuck listening to you blather and shoot nasty looks at those who don't "fit in" notice? You really ought to think about what you are saying, and your audience. We're not all your buddies.

To 9:35-
Yes, there really _are_ working moms who don't think they're superior to SAHMs. Does that shock you?
How odd to have to justify not judging other people. Although I am getting a mental picture of what you must be like...

Posted by: randdommom |

Posted by: clerk | May 29, 2007 11:35 AM

A quick survey: Is your child reading yet, and at what age did he/she learn to read?

Posted by: Sharky | May 29, 2007 11:39 AM

The idea that media coverage is favoring working moms over SAHMs is probably just the pendulum swinging in the other direction. Ten to twelve years ago, in the wake of the Republican revolution led by Newt Gingrich and the neocons, working mothers were blamed for every ill to befall society since WW II. These views received a lot of ink in the newspapers, book deals and a slew of radio time for Dr. Laura, etc.

Regardless of how "right" it may feel, any woman who chooses to give up a career and does not have an alternative source of income (i.e., trust fund) is taking a financial risk. I can't imagine the mess my daughter and I would be in right now if I had completely given up work for five years then tried to re-enter the workforce after my husband left. I saw the mess my mother made by trying marry into a better situation. After three failed marriages, she found herself over 40 with two children under five and a teenager, and no job skills. We grew up in poverty as a result. I am risk averse; there was never any question about my continuing to work after having a child. I did it for both my benefit and my daughter's. Poverty sucks.

Posted by: single western mom | May 29, 2007 11:42 AM

3 months old

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 11:42 AM

I'm shocked that you think that Oprah, who represents a strong voice in mainstream media, does not represent the voice of SAHMs. I think that's the only voice she represents. But who am I to talk, I'm at the office at 3pm everyday, so don't have time to watch her show!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 11:42 AM

"As for all those people who opt to "red-shirt" their 5 year olds, what's happening now is that fewer & fewer 5 year olds are in kindergarten, so they no longer are seen as the norm for behaviour, etc. Instead, the 6 yo's are seen as the median."

Nebraska,

Evidently you've decided that while other parents might be capable of deciding whether or not a parent staying home is best for their children, they are not capable of deciding when their child is ready for school. Please reconsider.

There's more to success in school than whether you can hold a pencil. Can you follow 2 - 3 step directions? Are you comfortable with larger social groups? Are you mature enough to stay on task for 20 minutes at a time completing worksheets at a desk? We had our son tested by a developmental expert because he had a late September birthday. He was ready for kindergarten in terms of fine motor skills but not ready for kindergarten in terms of his social/emotional skills. Based on the expert's advice, which concluded with, "you know your child better than anyone else, but this is was I see," we decided that it was in his best interest to enroll him in a pre-k program and delay kindergarten enrollment for another year. Our daughter's birthday is in the same month, but she was ready. Different calls for different kids. Isn't that what good parenting is all about?

Readiness to participate in a class with 20 - 25 kids necessarily is approached differently than readiness to participate in a class with 13 - 15 kids. Distractability and an inability to focus were issues for our son and are issues for many young men. Younger boys might adjust and learned adequately in a kindergarten class with 13 children, but they don't get as much out of the year and they often impede the teacher's ability to teach the class. The more kids you add to the kindergarten classroom, the more distractable kids have a kindergarten experience where they are yelled at -- oops - "corrected" -- constantly and develop a negative attitude toward school.

I am not responsible to you, the village, or the nation for making a poor decision for my son because it better suits your politics and opinions. My child attending kindergarten in the year he turned 5 would not have been good for my son or for any other child in the class in which he would have been enrolled. That one year delay allowed him the time to develop the skills to more easily resolve disputes with his classmates in an acceptable manner, increased his capacity to follow multi-step instructions in class, and contributed to a positive educational environment not just for him but for the rest of his class.

This parenting issue is like all others that don't involve abuse - looking down your nose at someone else's choice for their kids helps no one. Understanding why some parents make different choices may come in handy if you or a family member are ever faced with a similar choce.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 29, 2007 11:43 AM

I felt terribly guilty of not being there for the "firsts".

This is about you, not the child. Do you think the baby cares who is with him the time he takes his first step as long as it is someone who claps & smiles. If it was grandma while the SAHM and her husband were at a friend's wedding she should feel guilty? She missed it just as much as the WOHM. Do you have to see the first step to be as proud?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 11:44 AM

My daughter has been in daycare for three months and she loves it. She lights up the minute we drop her off. She basically goes from adoringly smiling at mom and dad all morning to "see ya later I gotta check out my friends!". She loves the caretakers and having half-a-dozen other kids to watch. I understand the argument that an emotionally invested parent obviously has to be the best for the child, but in my case it's not playing out that way. I think my daughter likes the stimulation of being around others, hanging out with a group, and just generally seeing something and someone different everyday. Not so different from her mom in that respect. If we had alot of extended family around for her to interact with maybe it would be different, but so far daycare is working out well for us. The hardest thing about working for me is finding time for all the other junk that needs to be done, groceries, home repairs, cleaning, etc.

Posted by: rumicat | May 29, 2007 11:45 AM

If it's any comfort, look at what a prize-winner Dr. Laura's son has turned out to be. She has no credibility left in criticizing ANY moms, SAH or WOH.

Posted by: To single western mom | May 29, 2007 11:47 AM

I have friends that are considering becoming teachers and are specifically looking for public teaching positions because they say the pay and benefits are actually much better than in the private sector. they say that the trade off is that you are more limited in discipline techniques in public schools. Are you sure the public schools are really having a difficult time attracting good teachers? I agree that they shoul dpay teachers even more, but I really don't think that private schools are paying any more to their teachers.

My son's teacher is phenomenal-- the kids are nurtured with her love and they are learning and creative-- she is the total package and we are very grateful. this is DC public school-- pre-K, in fact.

I almost want to hold him back as I don't see how thigns could get any better with the next teacher up the rung! and this was only her first year teaching at that grade. I hate to hear folks desparaging with a broad brush public school teachers, especially given the gem that we have for our own child.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 29, 2007 11:47 AM

Jen S. -- I have friends who are teachers in both public and private schools. The private school teachers don't make as much, except for those who teach at the "ivies" (Spencer and Choate, for example).

I was offered a job at a private school (not an ivie by any stretch) that would have had me teaching four grade levels five different classes (grade level English class + AP) for a grand total of $17,000/year. This was in 1995. I couldn't live on it, so I didn't take it. There are quite a few private school teachers who are either independently wealthy or have a spouse who makes $$ . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 29, 2007 11:56 AM

Sorry, that should be "Spence" (not Spencer).

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 29, 2007 11:57 AM

I, too, live in Wake county, and have been following the year-round debate with interest. I don't care when DD ends up actually being in school, as long as I can feel confident she's getting a good education. But I have to say I've never talked to a parent of a year-round kid who didn't think the schedule was fantastic.

Did anyone here from Wake county read the N&O's article on school crowding on Sunday? Even with trailer classrooms and every available bit of non-classroom space packed with kids, our scools are still massively overcrowded. Scary stuff!

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 29, 2007 12:00 PM

If it's any comfort, look at what a prize-winner Dr. Laura's son has turned out to be. She has no credibility left in criticizing ANY moms, SAH or WOH.

Posted by: To single western mom | May 29, 2007 11:47 AM

That's not just a slippery slope, 11:47, it's heavily greased to ensure embarrassment. Unless, regardless of how much you hate Dr. Laura or any other parent, you are willing to buy into the concept that good parenting results in "good" kids (or kids who make choices of which we approve) 100% of the time and bad parenting results in "bad" kids or kids who make choices of which we disapprove 100% of the time, don't go there.

Good parents sometimes have kids who grow up to murder their spouses. Bad parents sometimes have kids who grow up to be president. You shouldn't take an opportunity to blame the first group unless you are willing to give all credit for the positive outcome in the second group to some lousy parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:01 PM

I now work full-time after being home for 5+ years after my youngest two boys were born (twins). And like many others, while I get weary of the constant battle between the working mothers and the stay-at-homes, I also see that perspectives change, children grow up and ultimately, we all are geared towards the same goal: Enjoy our children the best we can given the time we have, and raise them to be self-sufficient and worthwhile in the world.

That being said, however, I can honestly without a doubt state that I thoroughly enjoyed being home with two out of four of my children. And I really was at home for the two school-agers, as well, as they had no need for the bus or before/after school care. I liked being available for my husband (who has a highly demanding public service position), I liked being able to run to school for one reason or another, and I liked the fact I was THERE.

But - I freely admit I was not necessarily that "good" at it. I was not particularly gifted in terms of ever getting laundry done, I was not the world's most skilled meal planner, and I certainly did not hold anything resembling preschool for my young ones. The funny thing is, though, that if you walked up to any of my four boys or husband, and asked what THEY would prefer? All 5 of them would tell you they loved having me home.

And that is a pretty good testament to why it worked for me. It made all of our lives simpler. It is true, however, the the "voice" of a stay-at-home parent is rarely heard, outside of a school PTA meeting or community volunteer committee. I cannot explain why that is the case, but I know it is.

Peculiarly, though, my two youngest are light-years ahead of their older siblings (who were both in preschool while I worked full-time) in terms of kindergarten readiness, and they are just now in preschool for the first time. Perhaps it is the influence of older siblings and a reading mother, but they are more than ready, if not "too" ready for kindergarten this fall. I don't know what that says about daycare/preschool (two different things, I realize), but it is fascinating to me.

And I will finally state that given the choice between full-time work and being home again - I would hands-down choose being at home. However, the decision to work full-time is one we reached as a family, and it is greatly enhancing our ability to finally get on our feet financially. So that is worth it for the time being, and we will evaluate as we go along. So far - it is complete insanity, but it is the right choice for now.

Posted by: 4boysinStafford | May 29, 2007 12:03 PM

"You people really don't think of the cashiers and clerks who are stuck listening to you blather and shoot nasty looks at those who don't "fit in" notice?"

Guess what, clerk? you're not stuck doing anything. Turn off the computer and get a life, preferably one that makes you less defensive and less hateful to everyone who has a different life than the one you've made for yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:04 PM

The high school my daughter attends is getting renovated. Four 42 inch plasma TVs were just installed in the lunchroom. Wow!

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 29, 2007 12:05 PM

Good parents sometimes have kids who grow up to murder their spouses. Bad parents sometimes have kids who grow up to be president. You shouldn't take an opportunity to blame the first group unless you are willing to give all credit for the positive outcome in the second group to some lousy parents.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 12:01 PM

Dr. Laura thinks that way, so why isn't it valid for her to be judged by her own standards?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:08 PM

"I agree that they shoul dpay teachers even more, but I really don't think that private schools are paying any more to their teachers."

Jen S., I don't recall anyone ever claiming that private schools pay more. In our experience they pay significantly less. They do sometimes provide a more pleasant working environment because, (1) the parents often are more invested in the importance of education, support homework and other assignments, show up for parent-teacher conferences, and act like a team with their kids' teachers, (2) good teachers don't have to worry that their good performance will only serve to highlight the lousy performance of those few bad teachers, (3) disruptive students are warned, then expelled, if necessary to restore the learning environment, and (3) instead of having to teach to some silly government test, they can create a curriculum that meets the needs and interests of the kids in that year's class. There's a novel idea.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:09 PM

(1)... (2)... (3)... (3)...

Is that how you learned to count in private school?

Posted by: To May 29, 2007 12:09 PM | May 29, 2007 12:15 PM

NC Mom:
Actually, I do. Our elementary school required trailers one year after opening because the capacity was not planned well. It is full and, by gov standards, fails the NCLB law on a yearly basis. So much for the county planning commission. I would like to see them curtail the development until the infrastructure is up to par.

So you are saying that a school that is full to capacity for the current school year somehow becomes able to handle more children with the new, year-round system?

NC Mom:
"Operating on 4 tracks, where each 25% of students is on a 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off schedule"

So, what you are saying is that 1/4 of the kids are not going to school during one of those "9 weeks on"? Or is it only the three weeks, that 1/4 are out? I am confused, so I would like to get some clarification. Are they grouped by learning ability and all stay in the same track throughout their schooling? Or is it by grade level?

The "forgetting" over the Summer is only for languages, math, and sciences in the elementary/middle schools. Also, if the students "forget" then did they ever really "learn" it? Teach the concepts and that stays with you. Teach the book and you forget what it says. Once in high school, only the languages carry on from year to year. The sciences and math change according to the course.

What if they need to move in the middle of the Summer session to another school district? Or even to another school within the district?

I really am trying to better understand the ramifications of the desire for year-round school. So far, I'm not seeing it. You may be able to provide some light for me.

NC Mom:
"Those who did are hiring more college students, recent high school grads, college grads, etc."

If you are correct in this statement, then you are probably in an area with a plethora of colleges that are off during the Summers. Chapel Hill? Duke? UNC? Edon? How can a facility hire college students for 3 weeks at a time throughout the year when those students are in classes? You lose a whole demographic for potential candidates.

Posted by: Working Dad | May 29, 2007 12:17 PM

It is good that people are on both sides of the fence as it really helps a balanced society. If everyone was a SAHM, then we would have a glut of volunteers for schools and it may not be as rewarding for those that are volunteering. And, women would not be represented in business making it very one-sided.

Since different things work for different people, we in a way balance each other. It wouldn't work if it were all one and not the other.

Posted by: Thought | May 29, 2007 12:18 PM

Dr. Laura thinks that way, so why isn't it valid for her to be judged by her own standards?

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 12:08 PM

Because in this instance, YOU are the one purporting to apply her standard and determine whether they outcome supports or detracts from them. Do you believe parents are responsible for all outcomes of their children? Really? So you think I'm a phenomenal parent if my child graduates from Harvard and is faithful to his wife? What if his younger brother becomes addicted to heroin and is a leach on society -- what kind of parent am I then?

Meanness and stupidity beget the same. If you think Dr. Laura's a judgmental imbecile, stop imitating her.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:21 PM

If you think Dr. Laura's a judgmental imbecile, stop imitating her.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 12:21 PM

So, in other words, Dr. Laura gets to judge, but is exempt from being judged by her own standards. That's called hypocrisy.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:24 PM

One thing about moving to a 12 month school year is that it doesn't give teachers the option of picking up an extra job in the summer to make ends meet.....many of my teaching friends (both in the public and private schools) have taken summer jobs to supplement their incomes. Does anyone know if the districts with 12 month calendars pay their teachers more?

Posted by: notyetamom | May 29, 2007 12:24 PM

I have no idea what Dr. Laura's son has or has not done, but it does sorta lend itself to the pot and the kettle analogy.

As parents we have the most influence over the people our children will become, but in the end, our children will lead their own lives.

To the 12:04 poster: just because someone is working as a clerk or waitress, etc. doesn't mean he/she hates his/her life or is resentful of what other people have. These are often young people who are working while in college, etc. Working with the public will give you an up-close view of just how rude and nasty people can be. As a former waitress, the best advice I have given my daughters: never be a jerk to the person who is handling your food. Yes, your food will end up on the floor and back on your plate...or worse.

So be nice, people. It not only earns you good karma, but you could be spared food poisoning as well.

Posted by: single western mom | May 29, 2007 12:24 PM

"If you want to get worked up about something, you should get worked up on the behalf of migrant workers children"

No thanks! No one told them to come here.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:27 PM

"So you are saying that a school that is full to capacity for the current school year somehow becomes able to handle more children with the new, year-round system?"

Yes it does, and if you thought a moment about it you'd figure it out. By sending kids to school during the summer, you're providing 25% more capacity by using the classrooms all year round, instead of just using them 9 months out of the year.

Now that there's no need to send children home to work on the farms during the summer, there's no big reason to not go year round.

Many parents don't like it since it does mess up schedules when children are on different tracks or one is in elementary and the others' in middle/high school (which don't go year round), but short of building schools in Wake County on every corner, something has to be done right now.

Posted by: John L | May 29, 2007 12:28 PM

"(1)... (2)... (3)... (3)...
Is that how you learned to count in private school?"

It's the series and sequences taught in Calculus II.

Posted by: Working Dad | May 29, 2007 12:29 PM

someone brought up this book on Friday. I highly recommend it as one of the only books I've seen that shows personal viewpoints of people from every side of the spectrum: childed, childless forever, and the maybes...

Maybe Baby: 28 Writers Tell the Truth About Skepticism, Infertility, Baby Lust, Childlessness, Ambivalence, and How They Made the Biggest Decision of Their Lives (Hardcover)
by Lori Leibovich (Author)

Posted by: married young | May 29, 2007 12:29 PM

To Fo4 and Dotted,
There is a difference between school and aftercare. Aftercare is specifically set up for working parents. Schools do not conform to the working day---public schools' (and private)mission is to educate children, not to relieve parents of childcare expenses so they can go to work. There is a difference.

The change in hours in kindergarten has everything to do with the changing educational expectations of 5 year olds. We now expect that they will read and do math and therefore the day needs to be longer to accomodate that. I've never seen anywhere the rationale being that parents need more relieve from childcare.

So what I mean by "out of touch" is that it seems to me that you do not understand public school mission, goals and objectives. I bet no where is there a goal to relieve paretns of childcare.

Posted by: working mother | May 29, 2007 12:29 PM

"If you want to get worked up about something, you should get worked up on the behalf of migrant workers children"

No thanks! No one told them to come here.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 12:27 PM

Uh, actually, they had no choice about coming here. Their parents told them to.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:30 PM

Uh, actually, they had no choice about coming here. Their parents told them to.

No one told their parents to come here.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:33 PM

SWM beat me to it. I am attending school and I DO listen to what people have to say in line.

I saw one woman who was purchasing a lousy little birthday cake for her kid in addition to some regular groceries paying in food stamps in TEARS because some well-to-do cow further back in the line had something nasty to say about "Trailer trash", and "Well, if this is how MY tax dollars are being spent, why don't we just have the state take her kid?". Pretty easy for you to say, when someone else is paying for your stay-at-home lifestyle.

Wish I could say that was the worst thing I've ever heard patrons say. But it isn't. Watching that woman fight not to cry was awful.

Posted by: clerk | May 29, 2007 12:35 PM

Unless you are a native american, you are a migrant/immigrant too so get off your high horse, cowboy.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:36 PM

So you are saying that a school that is full to capacity for the current school year somehow becomes able to handle more children with the new, year-round system?

NC Mom: Yes.

NC Mom:
"Operating on 4 tracks, where each 25% of students is on a 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off schedule"

Are they grouped by learning ability and all stay in the same track throughout their schooling? Or is it by grade level?

NC Mom: they're not grouped at all. Classroom assignments are done by the same administrators using the same criteria they employ now.

The "forgetting" over the Summer is only for languages, math, and sciences in the elementary/middle schools.

NC Mom: You say, "only", I say, unless you're excluding the English language, reading comprehension, spelling, and advanced grammar, what else is it that you believe they are teaching. You're right that they're not reviewing art and the rules of soccer, but so what?


Also, if the students "forget" then did they ever really "learn" it? Teach the concepts and that stays with you. Teach the book and you forget what it says. Once in high school, only the languages carry on from year to year. The sciences and math change according to the course.

NC Mom: this is a philosophical point about education that is not related to the pros and cons of year-round vs. traditional calendar schools.

What if they need to move in the middle of the Summer session to another school district? Or even to another school within the district?

I really am trying to better understand the ramifications of the desire for year-round school. So far, I'm not seeing it.

NC Mom: I don't know what you're not "seeing" in terms of ramifications, or are you intending to say that you don't see the justification for year-round schools. That's a different point.

NC Mom:
"Those who did are hiring more college students, recent high school grads, college grads, etc."

If you are correct in this statement, then you are probably in an area with a plethora of colleges that are off during the Summers. Chapel Hill? Duke? UNC? Edon? How can a facility hire college students for 3 weeks at a time throughout the year when those students are in classes? You lose a whole demographic for potential candidates.

NC Mom: You are ignoring community college students. Community and tech colleges are available in a majority of communities. Is your biggest concern for the hiring needs of camp programs? I can only tell you, there's been no problem in this region and no camps/programs have been cut or enrollment dropped as a result.

Posted by: NC Mom | May 29, 2007 12:38 PM

I don't think I would like year round school. Some of my family just visited on their way to explore the west. How can they do that if they are in school all summer? I think that these experiences are just as important as what kids' learn in school.

On the kindergarten thing, my daughter can't start until she is almost 6 because she missed the deadline. It sucks, but they don't have a test in program here.

Posted by: scarry | May 29, 2007 12:38 PM

No one told their parents to come here.

They are invited to work here, by the big agriculture companies, mostly. Follow the money.

You like inexpensive food, no matter how hard it is to actually harvest (lettuce, strawberries, peaches, etc.) you really should find out how it magically appears in your grocery store.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:40 PM

regarding clerk's post:

And who knows? Perhaps the mom paying for groceries with food stamps was a SAHM who got dumped by her cheating husband. My mother ended up on food stamps BECAUSE she kept getting married and having babies instead of going to college and pursuing a career.

Posted by: single western mom | May 29, 2007 12:42 PM

No one told their parents to come here.

No, but you want inexpensive perishable delicate foodstuffs available at all times. Lettuce, strawberries, apples, peaches, spinach, etc. All are hand-picked.

Reminder: farm workers are NOT subject to minimum wage.

Now, who do you think is going to work for pennies on the dollar? Are YOU? Your kids? No? Exactly how do you expect all of this food to get harvested, packaged and delivered? Not everything can be done by a machine. A lot of crops are not as tough as corn, for example.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:43 PM

Bill Moyers has done a piece on migrant workers. This is one little snippet.

Migrant Labor in the United States

Recent estimates by the U.S. Department of Labor suggest that approximately 1.3 million U.S. citizens migrate between states, earning their living by working in the agricultural industry. The outlook for these workers is bleak. Their education rates are much lower than the national average. Their health is undermined by hard outdoor labor and exposure to pesticides -- Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration lists agriculture as the second most dangerous occupation in the United States. The Farmworker Health Services Program reports that the average life expectancy of a farmworker is substantially lower than the national life expectancy rate of the U.S. population. And, according to a 2000 survey by the Department of Labor, 61 percent of all farmworkers have incomes below the poverty level. For the past decade the median income of farmworker families has remained less than $10,000.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:46 PM

John L:
"Yes it does, and if you thought a moment about it you'd figure it out. By sending kids to school during the summer, you're providing 25% more capacity by using the classrooms all year round, instead of just using them 9 months out of the year."

That's what I'm working on...figuring it out. If they are all on the same schedule, you aren't gaining anything. But if 1/4 is out for three weeks on the rotating basis, then you have a chance of gaining something. But you lose flexibility of changing from one group to another.

If you have the same set of teachers, they have to keep track of which students have learned which lessons. Hard enough with teaching AP vs. college bound vs. vocational ed students at the same time. Easier to do if the classes are a day or two apart. Now add additional groups at different three-week increments and that adds a third dimention to all those tracks. Hope the teachers are getting big pay raises.

Posted by: Working Dad | May 29, 2007 12:48 PM

Kindergarten readiness---

There is no doubt that some boys born at the end of a calendar year may not be ready developmentally for kindergarten. That is why in many districts, the cutoff is the end of August. However, there are a lot of parents who seek to give their kid an edge and so change the dynamics of the class by having older children in kindergarten. I do not want my children--who are developmentally normal and on target for age--to be judged against a kid a year older. When my son was in 1st grade, there was a kid turning 8 that spring. The kid was much bigger, "the best reader" and so on. Just dispicable.

Studies have shown that there is a fairly wide dispartity in developmental levels in the K-3rd grade. By 3rd grade, normal kids are all developmentally closer. Since this is normal, schools should be able to accomodate this so that kids of parents who choose to hold their kids back do not enjoy an unearned advantage. The day my daughter came home and told me little Johnny (a full year older) was the best in reading and math and that she sucked in math because she could not keep up with kids like him (he was in the "high" class), I realized that we are doing a huge disservice to our children. And my daughter was labelled "gifted" and was made to feel this way because of the older children in her class.

Posted by: another view of K readiness | May 29, 2007 12:52 PM

Uh, actually, they had no choice about coming here. Their parents told them to.

No one told their parents to come here.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 12:33 PM

That's real Christian of you, making the kids suffer for their parents crime.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:53 PM

"Some of my family just visited on their way to explore the west. How can they do that if they are in school all summer?"

The kids aren't in school "all summer." They have three-week stretches of time off, all year round. So they may not be able to travel for a month at a time, but they can surely fit in a lengthy vacation.

And, with the kids off at non-traditional times, there's more opportunity for inexpensive off-peak travel.

I don't know what year-round schools do about teachers. I'd been under the impression that the teachers were tracked with the kids, and would stay with the same kids for the entire year, just like in traditional schools.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 29, 2007 12:56 PM

"No, but you want inexpensive perishable delicate foodstuffs available at all times. Lettuce, strawberries, apples, peaches, spinach, etc. All are hand-picked."

Actually, I think it is a shame that these people make next to nothing. However, they choose to come here and I shouldn't have to supplement their income with my own. Our schools should not be overcrowded with their children and our children should not have to learn Spanish to get the free education that our taxes pay for. Perhaps if people like you didn't want inexpensive food the wages would go up and Americans could afford to take these jobs. I am just stating the obvious, which was that no one made them come here, you read into it what you wanted to.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:56 PM

If you think Dr. Laura's a judgmental imbecile, stop imitating her.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 12:21 PM

So, in other words, Dr. Laura gets to judge, but is exempt from being judged by her own standards. That's called hypocrisy.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 12:24 PM

No, in other words, don't imitate imbeciles. I don't say she gets to judge or is exempt. You are confused about the definition of hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is having one set of standards for yourself and another for others. That's exactly what you're doing if you apply one set of standards to Dr. Laura and not to yourself. Dr. Laura may well be a hypocrite if she does not apply her standards to herself. Similarly, it is hypocritical of you to apply any standards - whether Dr. Laura's or any other set - only to her and not to yourself or the rest of us.

If you want to judge Dr. Laura by her standards, you must apply those same standards to yourself otherwise the hypocrite is the man in the mirror. Since you think her standards are bunkum, then why apply them to anyone?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:57 PM

88 percent are men, many of them in the U.S. on their own so that they can send money back to families in their home countries.
55 percent are married. Of those, 71 percent are not living with their spouses.
Their mean age is 31. Many start the migrant life in their early 20s and return to their home countries within a few years to live in the homes that were built with U.S. money. They may return to the United States several more times before they are too old to work such hard jobs.

Doesn't sound like their kids are "flooding" the schools, particularly as they are not around for an entire school year.

Does this mean you eschew inexpensive food? You only eat what you grow & pick yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 12:59 PM

The kids aren't in school "all summer." They have three-week stretches of time off, all year round.

That seems very disruptive to many people's schedules. I I think I would rather have them out all summer.

Posted by: scarry | May 29, 2007 1:00 PM

Working Dad,

The year round schools are only for elementary students; they considered middle/high schools but realized that was impossible due to sports and other extracurricular activities.

The Wake County School Board mailed out questionaires to the parents of kids in the elementary schools, asking them what their preference was (year round or traditional schools). They said, though, that if the traditional option was taken, they'd make no promises on where the kids would be sent.

Needless to say, they are proudly trumpeting the fact that over 90% of parents with kids in year round schools chose to stay with it. But, that's not the problem; it's the fact that they were about to convert a dozen more traditional schools to year round schedules, and so far they've not said what the conventional parents' choices have been. The lawsuit came from parents who did not want to be forced into either sending kids to year round schools, or not knowing what traditional school they'd be sent to.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:01 PM

Year round school does not mean that the kids attend school any more than they do now. The school year is just structured differently. Instead of a long summer break, there are shorter intermittent breaks. 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off. There is still ample time away from school for travel and vacations. In fact, many people enjoy that they can plan their vacations for non-peak times and still not pull the children out of school.

The tracks are scheduled so that there is always a track of students who are off. Suppose a school has a capacity of 600 students. In a traditional schedule, 600 students would attend most of the year and none would attend through the summer. In a year round schedule, the school could accommodate 800 students. At any given time in the school year, 600 students would be on the attendance track and 200 students would be on the vacation schedule. By offering year round schooling, the school could accommodate more students with less overcrowding and use of portables.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:01 PM

Working Dad,

The year round schools are only for elementary students; they considered middle/high schools but realized that was impossible due to sports and other extracurricular activities.

The Wake County School Board mailed out questionaires to the parents of kids in the elementary schools, asking them what their preference was (year round or traditional schools). They said, though, that if the traditional option was taken, they'd make no promises on where the kids would be sent.

Needless to say, they are proudly trumpeting the fact that over 90% of parents with kids in year round schools chose to stay with it. But, that's not the problem; it's the fact that they were about to convert a dozen more traditional schools to year round schedules, and so far they've not said what the conventional parents' choices have been. The lawsuit came from parents who did not want to be forced into either sending kids to year round schools, or not knowing what traditional school they'd be sent to.

Posted by: John L | May 29, 2007 1:01 PM

www.labormex.com

Get your labor, cheap!

Posted by: to Nebraska | May 29, 2007 1:04 PM

Studies have shown that there is a fairly wide dispartity in developmental levels in the K-3rd grade. By 3rd grade, normal kids are all developmentally closer. Since this is normal, schools should be able to accomodate this so that kids of parents who choose to hold their kids back do not enjoy an unearned advantage. The day my daughter came home and told me little Johnny (a full year older) was the best in reading and math and that she sucked in math because she could not keep up with kids like him (he was in the "high" class), I realized that we are doing a huge disservice to our children. And my daughter was labelled "gifted" and was made to feel this way because of the older children in her class.

Posted by: another view of K readiness | May 29, 2007 12:52 PM

Talk about a teachable moment. Here's your opportunity to teach your daughter that different parents make different choices for their kids, whether to stay home or not, or start kindergarten at 5 or not, and that those choices are to be respected, but no - oo -oh, you'd rather complain about how others' choices are damaging your daughter's self-esteem.

Maybe you can start by explaining to your daughter that no one has the power to MAKE her feel a certain way. If your child is labeled "gifted," and she can't keep up with the kids in the "high" class (great labels -- imagine how the kid in the "low" class feels about his math ability), maybe the labeling is more representative of the good works of the self-esteem police than an indicator of giftedness. Are you working on her math with her now, or teaching her to be the victim?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:08 PM

1)If you think that illegal immigrants children are not flooding school systems throughout the country then you are either stupid or live underneath a rock

2)I do buy food from the supermarket, but my point was that I would gladly pay more for it if the wages would go up.

Also, should we let all the prisoners out of prison because their children are suffering? It seems like the Christian thing to do. After they get out, can they live in your neighborhood?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:08 PM

working mother at 12:29
Of course, the schools don't say they are daycare, but the problem is way too many parents treat/abuse the system of kindergarten entry to get a free year of daycare. Maybe not where you live, but the whole city of Pittsburgh is one example as I explained before. Even here in Chapel hill, back when my youngest was in kindergarten, there were a couple of hispanic kids who were younger than everyone else. Affluent parents hold their kids back a year for many reasons. These younger kids were there because public school is free and no questions were asked other than when is your birthday. They made the cutoff or else begged into a waiver. These kids were younger and had language difficultis. They shouldn't have been in kindergarten yet, but rather, in preschool daycare. Their parents were using public school as daycare (with free afterschool at public schools here...it really is free daycare). Parents were expecting their kids to fail kindergarten (and they did) and it didn't cost them a dime.

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 1:10 PM

An acquaintance of ours altered the birthdates on two of her kids' birth certificates so that she could enroll them a year early in kindergarten. Just imagine the fun their teachers have had teaching them moral and intellectual concepts that were beyond their grasp, and how this has played out for the kids socially and in school. They have trouble making and keeping friends in their grade. They are immature. and, best of all, they don't like school because it is difficult for them. And the Parents of the Year award goes to . . .

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:12 PM

Working Dad:
"The "forgetting" over the Summer is only for languages, math, and sciences in the elementary/middle schools."

NC Mom:
"You say, "only", I say, unless you're excluding the English language, reading comprehension, spelling, and advanced grammar, what else is it that you believe they are teaching. You're right that they're not reviewing art and the rules of soccer, but so what?"

Working Dad:
Actually, I'm going to take science out as well. We learned different things every year in science and never had to "review". So, language and math. Those are the only cumulative subjects in school. And I was mainly referring to foreign languages.

The other things they teach are social studies, history, geography, learning about the world and how to function in it, critical thinking and analysis. All these are cumulative in a sense, but not to move on to the next subject area or level of understanding.

Posted by: Working Dad | May 29, 2007 1:13 PM

but my point was that I would gladly pay more for it if the wages would go up.

You do realize that the price of food would skyrocket, right? We're not talking about 10-20%, we're talking doubling and quadrupling. Easily.

We do have immigrant children in our school district. Quite honestly, it makes it a much livelier place, and improves the food selection. I'm not impressed with the usual "salt-lick surprise" and "white bread wonder food" that was the norm around here only 5 years ago.

Having kids in the school who are told that teachers are the ultimate authority, that they damn well better do what they are told and not give the teachers a hard time, that this is an opportunity not to be squandered, and learning a second language is a requirement for graduation anyway, so who cares if my kids are learning Spanish instead of French, German or Japanese?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:14 PM

We learned to count like this:
I, II, III, IV, V

Posted by: Latin counter | May 29, 2007 1:14 PM

How sad. I once commented to a coworker about seeing someone pay with food stamps who left the store in a very expensive car. My coworker quickly set me straight when she confessed that she had to resort to food stamps when she was out of work for an extended period of time following surgery. As she put it "I had the nice car and nice clothes before I was out of work and out of money. Being on food stamps was a temporary helping hand."

I was in my early twenties when we had that conversation. I have never again been so judgmental about someone using food stamps. Without knowing the person, we have no idea how they came to be eligible for assistance.

Posted by: to clerk | May 29, 2007 1:14 PM

"I don't think I would like year round school. Some of my family just visited on their way to explore the west. How can they do that if they are in school all summer? I think that these experiences are just as important as what kids' learn in school."

scarry,

each of the 4 track options has a three-week off period during the course of the summer. There's no reason why year-round should interfere with travel and family experiences.

Year-round is most difficult for couples who are divorced and, as part of their custody arrangment, contracted for one parent or the other to have custody during the summer. Four round-trip tickets are alot more expensive than one, and sometimes the dates, give or take, were even part of the contract. Many of those couples are having to take on the expense and mental/emotional drain of renegotiating summer and break custody agreements.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 29, 2007 1:16 PM

How sad. I once commented to a coworker about seeing someone pay with food stamps who left the store in a very expensive car. My coworker quickly set me straight when she confessed that she had to resort to food stamps when she was out of work for an extended period of time following surgery. As she put it "I had the nice car and nice clothes before I was out of work and out of money. Being on food stamps was a temporary helping hand."

I was in my early twenties when we had that conversation. I have never again been so judgmental about someone using food stamps. Without knowing the person, we have no idea how they came to be eligible for assistance.

Posted by: to clerk

That is sad, in a sense. On the other hand, it's so much better than debtors prisons, you know?

I know I've been on the dirt-poor side of the financial equation before, and let me tell you this; poverty is NOT ennobling.

It's AWFUL. One of the weirder lingering effects of having been really poor for a time while growing up is that I find myself missing the days when I could count every rib and vertebrae in my backbone. I feel fat and flabby by comparison, and I know I always will. I DON'T tell my kids, particularly my daughter, this fact of course.

Instead I cluck my tongue and point out that Kate Moss is too damn thin, not a healthy ideal for most people, etc. even as I find her weight and look to be ideal.

I'm a size 8-10, and I feel like a cow & truly think I look like one of the "before" photos from every weight loss commercial I've ever seen.

Posted by: anon this time | May 29, 2007 1:20 PM

So you will take advantage of poor people to keep your food bill low. Who is Christian now? As far as learning a new language, Spanish should be a choice, not a requirement or in many cases a "must know" to learn in the school district.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:20 PM

"Affluent parents hold their kids back a year for many reasons"

In my experience, the main reason the kids are held back is because the parents want them to be "the best", "at the top of the class", "gifted" etc. The parents are already considering college admissions and scholarships and want their kids to have every advantage. School-resume building at age 5.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:22 PM

I didn't realize that Christianity had the corner on morality. Let's lower the bar of intelligence one more notch and insert, "not very Zen" or "who's acting Hindu now" into every post. That makes about as much sense as the following oddball insults the trolls are posting:

Also, should we let all the prisoners out of prison because their children are suffering? It seems like the Christian thing to do.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 01:08 PM

So you will take advantage of poor people to keep your food bill low. Who is Christian now? As far as learning a new language, Spanish should be a choice, not a requirement or in many cases a "must know" to learn in the school district.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 01:20 PM


Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:24 PM

So you will take advantage of poor people to keep your food bill low. Who is Christian now? As far as learning a new language, Spanish should be a choice, not a requirement or in many cases a "must know" to learn in the school district.

Continue patrolling the fence, would you Minuteman?

What do you know about where I buy my food, or how much I pay for it? And it has been a requirement in my state for a large number of years now that kids have a certain number of service hours, a second language and a number of other educational minimums.

Personally, I think everyone should have to take Latin for at least two years. But if you think not enough people want to be school teachers, even fewer of them want to teach Latin.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:24 PM

Local governments are moving towards fullday pre-k and kindergarten because numerous studies show that children learn more in the first five years of life than the rest of their lives. Children go to school to learn -- regardless of WHY we send them there!

Also, I have no idea what that random poster meant about me saying I loved being a SAHM. I was on the Montel Williams show recently. And while I respect SAHMs and advocate for their choices and voices, I have never been a SAHM and I can't speak for what that's like. Which is one very good reason I wrote Mommy Wars - I wanted to hear from moms who do stay home about why their choices are right (or not right) for them!

Posted by: Leslie | May 29, 2007 1:25 PM

In my experience, the main reason the kids are held back is because the parents want them to be "the best", "at the top of the class", "gifted" etc. The parents are already considering college admissions and scholarships and want their kids to have every advantage. School-resume building at age 5.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 01:22 PM

Doesn't sound as though you know many affluent parents. Every one I know who held a child back did so on the advice of development assessments. Think about it - most parents would rather brag that little Johnny is the first to learn to read, or understand quantum physics - not the last.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:27 PM

the poster that suggested that public teachers make less than private teachers was Working Dad in response to my question about what exactly he didn't like about "state sponsored" care. He said:

"State-sponsored care is not a bad thing, but it is not the best either. Most gov programs are not geared towards creativity and learning. They also tend toward mediocrity. That is why there is private schooling and aftercare in the first place. . . Due to the pay scale, gov programs get the people who either love their jobs and don't care about the money, very rare, or pelple who aren't qualified to find anything else. . . . " Posted by: Working Dad | May 29, 2007 11:33 AM


I think the post pretty directly puts private care above public and proposes that the reason public care is not as good as private is "Due to" the pay scale for teachers of public programs. Or was misreading your post, Working Dad?

Posted by: Jen S. | May 29, 2007 1:28 PM

Dotted,
What you describe are exceptions and people abusing the system. You don't necessarily change the system or criticise it because of those who abuse it. Fo4 is wrong to assume that the public school system is considered a form of daycare. He is out of touch.

Posted by: working mother | May 29, 2007 1:29 PM

My post got eaten. Bleck.

Millie- I'm with you on the subject of how to budget so one parent can stay home. It seems virtually impossible in DC, and some of us fought long and hard to get a much coveted gov't job with huge advancement potential, ie not a job I can get in B'more. I'm guessing that most people capable of pulling it off either have spouses with killer jobs or bought their homes long before the DC housing market explosion.

Posted by: atb | May 29, 2007 1:32 PM

anon at 1:27
May be true for some, but those same parents regret putting their kids in early for kindergarten when it comes time to test for special gifted services or just plain middle school (when pre-algebra math differentiation really separates kids...why you ask? because it is the first class where you have to test into and it is in middle school: the first time with organized classes). One friend explicitly learned with kid #1 on what not to do when it came time for kid #2 to go to kindergarten. He was so proud of kid #1...until he realized the other kids were actually so much further ahead than he realized.

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 1:33 PM

hey working mother:
those abuses aren't so rare at all (read my examples). When whole classes of people does an action because of money, then it is reality. You saying it is rare or whatever doesn't make it not real. It is real. Again, read my fairly concrete (one is whole big-city wide) examples! Fo4 isn't out of touch, but merely expressing reality. Very many people treat public school as daycare is a reality.

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 1:37 PM

"Maybe you can start by explaining to your daughter that no one has the power to MAKE her feel a certain way. If your child is labeled "gifted," and she can't keep up with the kids in the "high" class (great labels -- imagine how the kid in the "low" class feels about his math ability), maybe the labeling is more representative of the good works of the self-esteem police than an indicator of giftedness. Are you working on her math with her now, or teaching her to be the victim?"

Gee, what an a** you are--I am teaching her no such thing. It is all taught at school where some of the children are too big for the 2nd grade chairs, who compel the teacher to teach to their pace, not my normal child's and her cohort's pace. And if you don't think that believing that you are not good at something doesn't affect performace, you are dumber than I suspect.

Parents who hold their sons (or daughters)back a year for an advantage are playing the system and it shouldn't be allowed. If schools find this to be a problem then they need to create special needs classes for these children. Or these parents can provide support for these kids outside of class if they think it's so necessary. In Montgomery County there is a push to have all kindergarteners read by the end of the year which is ridiculous. Most 5 year olds are not ready--not because they are not intelligent--you can teach a monkey to read I suppose-- but because they are not ready. So we push out normal kids so we can check off some boxes on a list.

Parents of children held back should also note that as these kids get older, studies have shown that they are more likely to have behavioral problems in the higher grades. Many of the become bullies, disruptive, use illegal substances, etc. Girls are more likely to become pregnant.

And since many parents hold their kids back so that they are the top of the class, I find this practice dispicable.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:37 PM

"Even here in Chapel hill, back when my youngest was in kindergarten, there were a couple of hispanic kids who were younger than everyone else. Affluent parents hold their kids back a year for many reasons. These younger kids were there because public school is free and no questions were asked other than when is your birthday."

Dotted, I think that you are generalizing without taking into account cultural factors that can be at play. Granted, I'm from a different Latin American country, but what I've seen is that many children in Latin America are able to start school at a relatively young age. In my country, the norm is that if you wanted your child to have the best learning opportunity and environment, you sent them to school earlier (I started kindergarden when I was 3). So what you view as a way of getting free daycare can really be a way of getting your child in school as early as possible so that they can have better opportunities.

Posted by: MV | May 29, 2007 1:38 PM

DD is enrolled in year-round school and we have enjoyed the schedule. It's easier to find activities in those shorter breaks than for the whole summer. We take family vacation in the off season and avoid the crowds. And in this part of the world, where July and August temps reach 115, playing outside all summer just isn't an option, so the children might as well be in school.

DD's school also teaches using a Spanish immersion program for all students. She spends have the day learning in English and half in Spanish. She is pretty fluent, having done this for almost 4 years now. It hasn't impacted her academic performance, nor has it impacted the school's overall test scores, which are among the highest in the region.

As for delaying entry for Kindergarten as a way to get your child labeled "gifted," I don't see how that could happen. A 6-year-old might be ahead of his/her 5-year-old peers, but that doesn't make the child gifted. "Gifted" is a label given to children that score in the 98th percentile or above on certain intelligence tests (think that's right, could be a point or two lower). I don't think those tests change according to grade level. A child isn't labeled gifted based on their grades. There are plenty of straight-A students in my daughter's school that are not in the gifted program.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 29, 2007 1:39 PM

"State-sponsored care is not a bad thing, but it is not the best either. Most gov programs are not geared towards creativity and learning. They also tend toward mediocrity. That is why there is private schooling and aftercare in the first place. . . Due to the pay scale, gov programs get the people who either love their jobs and don't care about the money, very rare, or pelple who aren't qualified to find anything else. . . . " Posted by: Working Dad | May 29, 2007 11:33 AM


I think the post pretty directly puts private care above public and proposes that the reason public care is not as good as private is "Due to" the pay scale for teachers of public programs. Or was misreading your post, Working Dad?

Posted by: Jen S. | May 29, 2007 01:28 PM

Your ellipsis explains your mis-read. The contrast is between mediocrity and excellence.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:39 PM

This was published in 2004 (I think):

"As the summer months arrive, while many of North Carolina's natives are preparing for recreation, migrant farmworkers in the state are just getting ready for work. Each year, the United States' H2A program allows qualifying U.S. farmers and agricultural companies to recruit and hire foreign citizens to work on their farms as seasonal laborers. In North Carolina, the Department of Labor negotiates its annual agreements with the North Carolina Growers Association to allow over 10,000 migrant workers temporary legal working status. The constituent agricultural businesses of the NCGA subsequently recruit and contract with workers in other nations (most of whom are from Mexico) and arrange for their transportation to the United States. As a result, migrant workers are able to fill jobs that most native employees refuse to do--and at wages at which even most summer work-hungry high school students would scoff.


Migrant farmworkers
While the H2A program, so named for the section of U.S. immigration code that pertains to it, provides attractive economic opportunities for foreign workers, its provisions for the health and safety of the migrants leave much to be desired. Although immigrants may expect the long workdays and summer heat, they likely have little knowledge of how they will live and be treated after they arrive. Consequently, migrant workers endure conditions that disregard even the most fundamental human necessities.

As evidenced by the constant flow of undocumented immigrants across the nation's borders, many foreign citizens are eager to be part of the U.S. workforce. To a Mexican citizen who may worry about the dangers of illegal entry into the United States, the opportunity to migrate legally with free transportation and a secure job is very attractive. However, current regulations allow companies to take advantage of this enthusiasm to the abuse of the workers.


Cucumbers are one of the primary crops in North Carolina.
For one, guest workers often sign up without knowing the specifics of their agreement, as the Common Sense Foundation reports. Since the contract is negotiated between the Department of Labor and employers (or coalitions like the NCGA), workers are bound by a contract they may never see prior to its approval.

Second, employers essentially have a monopoly on a worker who has signed up for the program because workers may only work for the employer that requested their visa. With only one possible employer, a worker who is ill or finds conditions unfavorable in the United States has but two choices: continue to work for the same employer, or quit and use whatever savings he has to return to his country of origin. Of course, many workers cannot afford the latter option, leaving them stranded in an undesirable situation.


A picture of migrant housing from the Census Bureau.
Migrants' financial situations are worsened by the entry fee they pay recruiters to be a part of the H2A program. The standard fee for the NCGA is approximately $300. Of course, many migrants do not have the funds to pay this fee right away, so they incur debt that is difficult to repay with the low wages they earn as field workers. The entry fees charged by the NCGA are so lucrative that it grossed over $5 million in 1999, according to the News and Observer's Ned Glascock. While recruiters rake in profits, migrants must spend months repaying debts before they can earn anything for themselves or their families.

The living arrangements that companies are required to provide by their contracts for the duration of employment make typical American low-income housing look rather attractive. Migrants often live in overcrowded, dilapidated housing facilities where one washtub for every 30 people meets the legal standard. Employers are required to furnish beds and a stove, but neither heat nor air conditioning. Cases where there are 15 people for every toilet are not uncommon. One 1992 study published by Sandy Smith-Nonini found that 86 percent of farmworkers tested positive for internal parasites, and 44 percent of camps had contaminated water.

Migrants have little recourse to respond to such conditions. A section of pre-established H2A contracts stipulates that migrant workers are not entitled to tenancy rights that would allow them to seek redress. Instead, employers may legally prohibit the media and other guests from investigating living conditions on their property, leaving only housing inspectors to enforce standards. Nevertheless, the Department of Labor reported in 2000 that North Carolina does not have enough government inspectors to ensure safe housing and working conditions for guest workers. The state has four housing inspectors, only one of whom speaks Spanish. Thus, because there is an insufficient number of inspectors for the thousands of homes that must be examined, migrant housing is allowed to slip into illegal levels of disrepair.

For migrant workers, the situation in the field is no better than the one at home. It is not uncommon to work fourteen hour days in the summer heat, and since migrants are paid by the amount of work they do, breaks are naturally both costly and scarce. For this work, the average farm worker yields $12,000 for North Carolina's agricultural industry and earns significantly less.

But hard work and low pay might reasonably be expected of any farmer working in the field. What should not be accepted is the negligence of farm owners and crew chiefs in providing for worker safety. Workers are usually uneducated about their daily exposure to frequently toxic pesticides. Furthermore, farmers do not provide farmworkers with adequate hydration. Some reports indicate that the only source of water workers have on some farms is supplied by a large barrel of water and a single cup shared by all the workers. Such practices are illegal only in some cases because farmers with fewer than eleven employees are exempt from OSHA regulations for fresh water. Compounded by the Spanish-English language barrier, the agriculture industry's general exemption from overtime laws, and the loose enforcement of regulations, health concerns become even more serious.

To meet the medical needs of the migrant community, North Carolina provides low cost primary care to migrant workers. Health services are cheap, house calls are made regularly, and most prescriptions cost just a few dollars. However, although medical care is provided, workers scarcely seek medical assistance for two reasons. First, their long work days at low wages prevent them from being able to take trips to a doctor's office. Only when an injury or condition prevents a worker from working will she forego work for medical attention. Second, according to Steve Davis, Director of Outreach Services at Greene County Health Care, most workers do not have transportation to medical facilities; in some rural areas, the nearest phone is an hour's walk away. The state-provided health care system is therefore only marginally effective in treating immigrants' injuries and illnesses.

For the time that they work in the United States, migrant workers are American employees, and they ought to be treated as such. This implies a strong obligation to ensure that working conditions do not pose serious health dangers, that all parties concerned are knowledgeable of the implications of free and fair contracts, that U.S. employees do not live in substandard housing, that medical care is accessible, and that rules are enforced by an adequate number of public officials. In a nation where contemporary public debates on immigration policy center on whether to extend federal services to illegal immigrants and how to treat public charges, the choice concerning whether to ensure the most basic human needs and rights to those who serve a vital function in the national economy should be obvious."

Posted by: Speaking of NC | May 29, 2007 1:43 PM

Dotted, Dotted, Dotted,
Just because a few parents consider school to be "daycare", doesn't mean that schools are set up to be daycare. Perhaps the immigrant or poor families you describe are not aware that their kid may not be ready. They do not have the resources the upper classes have. It is incumbant upon the school system to better educate and guide parents. But you cannot condemn the whole school system as a form of daycare because a few families send their kids before they are ready.

And your 1:33 post is disturbing. For a family to decide to give their kid an unfair advantage is just not right. When enough parents do that, then that creates the problem you describe. It is unfair to the kids--especially the ones who are appropriately in their grade. And newsflash--some kids aren't necessarily intelligent enough to do Algebra in 7th grade or in middle school. Maybe your friends kids are average or below average in math. Holding them back does not help them at all.

Posted by: working mother | May 29, 2007 1:45 PM

"Fo4
is wrong to assume that the public school system is considered a form of daycare."

Working Mother, a few more examples:

I know a single mother that gets public assistance for her pre-school son to get bussed to school and also attend aftercare at a substancial discount.

The public school system where I live also have summer programs. Yes, school facilities are used and it is also planned and coordinated through resources funded by the public school system.

I don't know how you can rationally determine that I'm out of touch for recognizing that the public school system plays a significant role for accomodating parents and their childcare responsibilities.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 29, 2007 1:46 PM

1:37 - all of the kindergartners I know can read at a basic level by the end of the year and they all went in at the proper time. To suggest that its outrageous to expect kindgergartners to read I think is not valid. My 4 year old can read 3 letter words. Maybe we are defining "reading" differently.

Posted by: to 1:37 | May 29, 2007 1:48 PM

To A Dad: you wrote "Most employers -- and certainly the USG -- make it make more feasible for both parents to work full-time. The advance of flexible hours, telecommuting and such is real and widespread."

I completely disagree. My company has no flex hours and no telecommuting. My company has no policies that make my work/life balance easier. And I have a job that is 90% on a computer or talking on the phone.

Posted by: NAC | May 29, 2007 1:48 PM

To A Dad: you wrote "Most employers -- and certainly the USG -- make it make more feasible for both parents to work full-time. The advance of flexible hours, telecommuting and such is real and widespread."

I completely disagree. My company has no flex hours and no telecommuting. My company has no policies that make my work/life balance easier. And I have a job that is 90% on a computer or talking on the phone.

Posted by: NAC | May 29, 2007 1:48 PM

Parents of children held back should also note that as these kids get older, studies have shown that they are more likely to have behavioral problems in the higher grades. Many of the become bullies, disruptive, use illegal substances, etc. Girls are more likely to become pregnant.

And since many parents hold their kids back so that they are the top of the class, I find this practice dispicable.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 01:37 PM

1:37, as a parent of a child who was held back on the express advice of school personnel who agreed with a privately-done development assessment, I am particularly intrigued by your broad statements about behavioral problems later on. Your comments run directly counter to everything I've read on the subject. Please do share the specific citations for the studies you mention.

p.s. "dispicable" is spelled, "despicable". It would be a shame to misspell your insults and have your point misunderstood by anyone who might have missed it.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 29, 2007 1:49 PM

"A child isn't labeled gifted based on their grades."

May not be true in your area, but it happens in suburban MD.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 1:49 PM

"When my son was in 1st grade, there was a kid turning 8 that spring. The kid was much bigger, "the best reader" and so on. Just dispicable."

These parents will pay for it later on, when they're stuck with a high school senior who's 19-20 years old.

Posted by: Lizzie | May 29, 2007 1:49 PM

So "Due to pay scale" doesn't really mean "due to pay scale"?

Riiiight.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 29, 2007 1:50 PM

Off-Topic for anyone interested in the legitimate reasons for considering delayed entry for children who meet minimum age criteria:

"Who Are the Children in Need of an Extra Year?

Those working with developmental placement take into consideration certain factors in a child's life when making an assessment. These factors include:

Later Birthdays

Children born in the second half of the year (late spring through fall) may benefit by waiting a year before starting kindergarten. This is especially true of boys. Experience has shown that you can draw a line between June and July. Most boys born before July are ready for kindergarten as five-year-olds. Most boys born after June do better if they enter kindergarten as six-year-olds. For girls with birthdays in July and August, some are ready, but many are not. And even though a few states allow it, virtually no one turning five after September 1 should start school until the following year.

Physical Challenges

Physical challenges that affect children's rate of development generally fall into two categories: premature birth and extended illness. Here are the reasons:

The rates of development inside the womb and outside the womb differ greatly. Babies inside the womb develop at a greater accelerated speed than outside. After birth, the rate of development slows dramatically. If a baby continued to develop after birth at the same rate as in the womb, the average size of a one-year-old would be one hundred pounds. Consequently, when a child is born prematurely, development that would have taken place in the womb is now taking place outside the womb at a much slower pace. That can and often does have an impact five years later, when the child is chronologically ready for school.

Because the child was not full-term at birth, the birth date does not accurately represent the child's age developmentally. If this child's birthday is close to the cutoff date for kindergarten, it is generally best to give him an extra year before starting kindergarten to ensure that all areas of development are strong. When it comes to testing a child born prematurely, as a general rule of thumb, I subtract one month from his current age for every week he was premature. For example, when testing a four-year-old who was three weeks premature, it is not uncommon to find a developmental lag of three months behind children of his same chronological age. Here I must emphasize to the reader that this has nothing to do with the child's intelligence, but with how to best optimize a child's intelligence and learning experience.

Similarly, children who have had an extended illness or repeated hospitalizations during the early years of life usually experience some slowing in development while their bodies deal with the physical stress of illness and healing. This may explain why some of their behavior seems younger than their chronological age.

Emotional Challenges

As was previously mentioned, children's development takes place in four main areas: physical, mental, emotional, and social. Unusual stress in one area may slow development in other areas. This does not mean that stress alters the I.Q. or the ability to reach potential. Rather, for a period of time the mind changes focus from normal stimulation and development to preoccupation with the stressful situation. This is especially true of children experiencing divorce or the death of someone to whom they were close. This may cause a child's rate of development to slow down and therefore should be considered when determining developmental readiness for kindergarten.

Social Challenges

Making friends or adjusting to new situations can be very difficult for some children. While a child may be ready for the academic work of school, he may not be ready for the social setting found in the classroom. Giving him a year to mature socially may make the difference between a scholar with a well-rounded personality and a child who excels academically but has no idea how to make and keep friends.

Slower Development

Some children just develop more slowly. It's as if the developmental clock that is ticking inside them is just running at a slower pace than other children's. Rather than be frustrated by this, a wise parent will give this child the time needed to fully mature and won't try to rush things in order to keep pace with others. If this is your child, give him the gift of time needed. He will reach his full potential."

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 29, 2007 1:51 PM

SO what if some kid is labled gifted and your's isn't? This weird competition where you all are so worked up about an unfair advantage in second grade is crazy. Teach your kids to measure themselves against themselves, not everyone around them. Honestly, what would the unfair "advantage" in second grade be? First in the milk line. Lighten up and accept that the playing field isn't always level and your kid won't always be first!

Posted by: Que? | May 29, 2007 1:52 PM

"Parents who hold their sons (or daughters)back a year for an advantage are playing the system and it shouldn't be allowed."

Agreed. Problem is, the system is completely flawed -- it runs on the law of averages, assigns kids to classes based solely on chronological age and not abilities/readiness, and then teaches to what the average kid of that age can manage.

Unfortunately, that does a tremendous disservice to the not insignificant number of kids who are not "average" -- who were born just on one side or the other of the deadline and so are far older or younger, who learn more quickly or need more time, who need more running around time or more quiet time, etc. Whenever you have a system that works on a completely arbitrary basis, such as a calendar date, you are always going to have people trying to work the system to do what's best for their kids.

We've been on one end of it with my daughter, and will likely be on the other end with my son. My daughter craves learning, is very quick to pick things up, and is easily bored -- she needs the stimulation of a fast-paced class, offset by LOTS of running-around time, or else she becomes a discipline nightmare. So we talked to the school about moving her ahead, finding alternate ways to keep her engaged, and were pretty much told that that's Not How It's Done, and that all kindergarteners focus on learning their letters and numbers (she was reading and doing addition already). So we're in Montessori, where the work is less grade- or age-oriented and is instead targeted to each kid's development.

On the other hand, my son has a late-year birthday and has been much slower to develop words (of course, why would he with Doppler Girl around?). It's too early to tell, but he seems to be slower to get going, but methodical and unstoppable once he does (I think of him as a diesel engine). Oh, and he's HUGE. Given how strict they are with birthday cutoffs around here, he is most likely to be the giant kid who turns 6 shortly after kindergarten starts. For him, that may work out ok, because he will likely need that extra year's socialization to be where my daughter is now. But will that put him in with the "average" kids in his class? Or will he suddenly be seen as more "advanced" because he has that extra year under his belt? Luckily, Montessori will be an option for him, too.

Posted by: Laura | May 29, 2007 1:57 PM

"A child isn't labeled gifted based on their grades."

May not be true in your area, but it happens in suburban MD.

-----

If true, that's really too bad. Allowing that kind of corruption isn't helping anyone, including the student who thinks s/he is gifted and his/her parents!

The school system out here is very strict on the guidelines for the GATE program. DD missed by 1 point the first time she took the test, and no exceptions were made for her or any other student who may have come close.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 29, 2007 1:59 PM

Laura - isn't Montessori just a Godsend? I think your son would have as much to gain from it as your daughter. One of my greatest wishes for my kids was that they love learning and Montessori has truly helped foster that feeling.

Posted by: Moxiemom | May 29, 2007 2:00 PM

All I need to know about you, 1:37, is that you label your child "normal" and everyone else is dumb, and an "a**."

Quite a nice attitude to hand down to your daughter. I hope your daughter has not inherited your trouble with sharing sandboxes.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 2:01 PM

working mom:
Chapel hill assumes every child should take and pass algebra in 8th grade...middle school. pre algebra is standard 7th grade math here. As an aside, their kid is good at math, but if he had had an extra year he would have been better. Algebra is abstract and requires different thinking skills than elementary math (which is primarily memorization).

MV, I wouldn't generalize if these kids had been really ready for school. They were not ready. As evidence, they had to repeat kinder.

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 2:03 PM

FYI--i provided the ellipsis because the part equating private care with aftercare didn't make any sense to me. Aren't aftercare programs typically "state sponsored"?

Here is what I think I cut:

"Most gov programs are not geared towards creativity and learning. They also tend toward mediocrity. That is why there is private schooling and aftercare in the first place. Not to segregate those children from the rest of the population, but to provide them with a better environment for learning and play."

So anyway, IF it is true that state sponsored care "tends to mediocrity", why is that? the post suggested that the difference was "due to" pay difference, but for the reasons i've already stated, I don't think that it is true. But I am interested to hear other possibilities and-- also rebuttals to the idea that public schools are mediocre compared to private. I recall a study done by the Dept of ED last year that showed that after you control for other factors public neighborhood schools actually are better overall than private schools and charters. Wasn't something Dept of Ed really wanted to broadcast since it really undercuts the push for charters and vouchers with the Republican administration.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 29, 2007 2:07 PM

"The day my daughter came home and told me little Johnny (a full year older) was the best in reading and math and that she sucked in math because she could not keep up with kids like him (he was in the "high" class), I realized that we are doing a huge disservice to our children."

This happens ALL THE TIME in Montgomery County; where all the children are above-average, or ELSE.

Posted by: Silver Spring | May 29, 2007 2:08 PM

"The year round schools are only for elementary students; they considered middle/high schools but realized that was impossible due to sports and other extracurricular activities."

So parents could have multiple kids on completely different schedules? Seems like that could make work/life balance even more challenging.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | May 29, 2007 2:08 PM

My DD took pre-algebra in 7th and passed with a C. We chose to have her repeat it in 8th to get a solid foundation before high school when grades 'really count'. She aced 8th grade pre-algebra and so far has an A in 9th grade algebra.

Her problem in 7th was not that we didn't hold her back for K - it was a clear case of middle-school-itis with too much interest in everything but math. Her 9th grade classes include gifted science, honors english, and basic algebra. Next year she will be taking G/T geometry since she is now more focused on school. BTW, the bump up in levels is strictly her choice, we are not pushing.

"Chapel hill assumes every child should take and pass algebra in 8th grade"

What does chapel hill do with kids like DD who don't take and pass algebra in 8th grade? Are they treated as failures who are doomed to mediocricy or worse?

Posted by: to dotted | May 29, 2007 2:12 PM

Rockville Mom -- Don't know about back east, but out here, families with children in both elementary and middle/high schools are given priority for Track 5 (we have 5 tracks out here rather than 4). Track 5 most closely matches the 9-month schedule. Not exactly (off a a couple of weeks in December and summer), but close enough to make those parents' lives a little easier.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 29, 2007 2:13 PM

"The year round schools are only for elementary students; they considered middle/high schools but realized that was impossible due to sports and other extracurricular activities."

So parents could have multiple kids on completely different schedules? Seems like that could make work/life balance even more challenging.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | May 29, 2007 02:08 PM

You are correct, Rockville Mom, although most systems, including Wake County's, claim that they give priority to keeping siblings on the same track, and appeals based on efforts to keep siblings on the same track rather than multiple tracks are given more credence (in theory) than appeals based on preferences, curriculum opportunities, etc.

Posted by: NC mom | May 29, 2007 2:13 PM

moxiemom, yeah, big sigh of relief there. Except after months of fine-and-dandy, now we're running into problems there. Basically, she's bored -- the "advanced" group is 7 kids, and they're all still practicing the same principles she learned a year ago (ie, math has moved from adding and subtracting 1-digit numbers to 3- and 4-digit numbers, but no carrying the tens yet). She gets turned on by new concepts, and gets distracted and bored by practicing the same old stuff, so she fidgets and talks and all that. So of course we're working with her on those behaviors, because she does need to learn patience and sitting still and all that. But I'm also a little frustrated with the school, because it seems like even they can take the "move at each individual child's pace" only so far. But, hey, if I were her teacher, she'd be getting on my nerves after nine solid months of constant energy and chatter, too. :-)

I also agree with you about my son -- he is such a little engineer, has little patience for sitting still, but loves doing things with his hands, and gets extremely focused and intent on his projects. So I think all of the montessori "toys" will be a really good fit for Mr. Daddy Jr.

Posted by: Laura | May 29, 2007 2:16 PM

any other school systems out there doing a public school preschool? In an effort to combat system-wide problems in kindergarten (between those who should be in preschool (aka daycare) and those ready for academic kindergarten), Chapel Hill is starting a public preschool, called First School. Kindergarten kids were of two camps: too young and really just needing daycare, or old enough for academics. Kindergarten teachers were doing too many daycare/preschool activities to the detriment of moving forward in academics. There are some outstanding issues, namely, should it be dual-language or not, but First School should be starting soon.

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 2:17 PM

NC Mom -- ACK! You mean they'll put siblings that are both in elementary school on different tracks? That's just wrong.

Doesn't happen here. There would be parents with pitchforks and torches storming the school board/district offices if they did that. My neighbor's kids were accidentally put on different tracks last year and they had it fixed with one phone call. And everyone remained friendly about the error because they knew it was just that -- an error.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 29, 2007 2:19 PM

To to dotted: I don't know how those kids failing, or not taking, algebra in 8th grade feel. I imagine they feel failure. They can respond in two ways: work harder or not. In some ways, this is an example of never wanting your kids to feel failure: they might never learn to work harder. It is also an example of higher standards (vis a vis the rest of the state). Your daughter seems to have learned to work harder, or at least to try, try again!!

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 2:22 PM

"The day my daughter came home and told me little Johnny (a full year older) was the best in reading and math and that she sucked in math because she could not keep up with kids like him (he was in the "high" class), I realized that we are doing a huge disservice to our children."

We're doing a huge disservice to our children when we teach them that, if they want to be the best, they should earn it by their performance. Johnny's age is irrelevant to this lesson. If I am not better than the guy who is 10 years older and has his framed diploma from MIT on the wall, then I'm not the best at my job either. Life doesn't adjust all the factors to the benefit of your child.

1:37 is another whacko parent competing with the world vicariously through her child.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 2:23 PM

Jen:
I skipped the comments after this one -- it prompted a thought, and I wanted to share it:

*I think it is great to get SAHM voices in the mainstream. I'd like to hear their response to your comment that their children are generally less independent
I imagine they would disagree that having a SAHM makes children less independant-- that in fact what is more likely is that is a parent sees that her child is more dependant for some reason, the parent is more likely to stay at home with the child than if the child indicated greater independance. *

I would say it all depends on the philosophy of the mother. If you raise your children with the goal of having them be independent, you will structure your family life to foster independence. I was a SAHM mom for several years, and my sons were independent, because that was a primary goal for me. It made it easier when I went back to work, but that wasn't the reason I fostered independence.

I used to think that WOH mothers were glorified in the media when I was a SAHM; now I don't think so. My sister never stayed home, and she always thought the mothers who don't work got all the glory. I suppose it all depends on your perspective.

Posted by: educmom | May 29, 2007 2:23 PM

Laura, I'm surprised to hear they are keeping your daughter from moving foward. Does she do the trinomial cube yet? There ought to be at least some of the manipulatives she could work with on on her own if they just gave her a lesson on it. Or show her some multiplication with the beads? You are right that there is some behavior that will probably serve her well to develop (patience and sitting still - me too!).

I do truly believe that Montessori is a wonderful place for boys or any child that is "busy"! I hope things get better for your girl. It can be difficult helping them to find the right path! What's really frustrating is that I know that retrospectively it will be abundantly clear, but now it does seem quite murky. The curse of choices I guess. There are worse curses to have.

Posted by: Moxiemom | May 29, 2007 2:24 PM

moxiemom: "retrospectively it will be abundantly clear, but now it does seem quite murky." True words that...

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 2:28 PM

"The day my daughter came home and told me little Johnny (a full year older) was the best in reading and math and that she sucked in math because she could not keep up with kids like him (he was in the "high" class), I realized that we are doing a huge disservice to our children."

We're doing a huge disservice to our children when we teach them that, if they want to be the best, they should earn it by their performance. Johnny's age is irrelevant to this lesson. If I am not better than the guy who is 10 years older and has his framed diploma from MIT on the wall, then I'm not the best at my job either. Life doesn't adjust all the factors to the benefit of your child.

1:37 is another whacko parent competing with the world vicariously through her child.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 02:23 PM

A year is a huge difference at this point in their lives. Have you seen the difference between the average four-year old and the average five-year old? If 24 little hours can make a difference in an adult's life, imagine what a year does for a child.

1:37, I doubt your kid is any significantly less capable than the other child was at the same age. Take heart.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 2:31 PM

NC Mom, Vegas Mom,

I hadn't even thought about different tracks in the same elementary school. I thought it would be bad enough with middle/high on one plan and elementary on another. But even the same elementary school... That would be ugly. Based on our agrarian past or not, being fairly consistent in summers off probably also works better for visiting family and friends in other school districts, in state or out. Otherwise, someone's always in school. I'm glad this isn't an issue for me thus far. Still with the standard schedule.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | May 29, 2007 2:34 PM

I must say, I am reading the immigration posts with a bit of amusement; I'm sitting at ground zero on this immigration debate. Sen. Kyl is getting flogged for supporting the bill that provides amnesty.

Anyone who ponders what an influx of low-income, non-English speaking children does to a school system should put your kids in school in Arizona (or LA County or Dade County or southern Texas). It's easy to have liberal sensibilities about such things until it's on your doorstep.

And health care in Arizona is truly at a crisis...many of the southern border hospitals have closed their doors because they cannot afford to give away care to illegal aliens. And many middle-class Americans who work and pay taxes to subsidize healthcare for illegals are unable to afford health insurance for themselves (CBS News is running a series on middle-class Americans who cannot obtain health insurance).

In 2005, the cost to incarcerate criminal aliens at the county level in Arizona was $37 million. The federal government should pick up those costs as a result of its inability to protect the borders. That was the cost to Arizonans, and this doesn't include the cost at the state prison level, where 11 percent of our inmate population are criminal aliens. (The cost for LA County jails alone was $75 million).

Illegal immigration impacts the quality of life in border states much more visibly than in other areas of the country.

Perhaps companies that benefit from the cheap labor should have to subsidize the education and health care sectors. And these agribusinessses are havens for human traffickers who force migrants into slave labor. The sugar cane industry in South Florida was notorious for this. It's ugly all the way around.

As for keeping the agricultural produce cheap: some states are using prison labor. Sounds like a great alternative considering our taxes are already supporting prisoners anyway.

Posted by: single western mom | May 29, 2007 2:35 PM

1:37, I'm still holding my breath waiting for you to identify those studies showing my son is more likely to become a bully, be disruptive, use illegal substances, etc. Unless you'd care to admit that there are no such studies and you were merely venting.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 29, 2007 2:36 PM

The average hourly wage of a migrant farm worker is $5.94. That's pretty low, no matter how you look at it.

I don't know if that included illegal migrant workers pay or not.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 2:43 PM

The average hourly wage of a migrant farm worker is $5.94. That's pretty low, no matter how you look at it.

I don't know if that included illegal migrant workers pay or not.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 02:43 PM

Either way, they have Social Security deducted, and the illegals (who list other people's numbers) aren't able to collect later on what they've paid in.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 2:46 PM

"Perhaps companies that benefit from the cheap labor should have to subsidize the education and health care sectors. And these agribusinessses are havens for human traffickers who force migrants into slave labor. The sugar cane industry in South Florida was notorious for this. It's ugly all the way around."

I don't understand why they aren't already answering to Congress, and you, about their business practices. I don't think there is a whole lot of point in castigating people for wanting to get here in order to improve their lot in life, or their family's either. I'd say that the companies are the ones who should shoulder the burden of blame. Not people who are desperate enough to risk their lives to get here.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 2:47 PM

Leslie,

I normally would not attack you because I often agree with the things you write but this made me so steamed I had to post something without even reading other comments, so forgive me if I'm duplicating (and I suspect I will be). I promise to go back and read them after I vent a bit here.

How could you possibly say that SAHMs are *under*represented by the media? Do you not count in your unscientific summation of opinions all of the working mothers (e.g., Dr. Laura and her ilk) who make a career (ironically) of propogating the life of stay-at-home moms and make us workers feel like the scrouge of the earth??

The SAHM point of view is getting plenty of airtime - and it's called the bulk of the Republican agenda, the ingrained notions of society at large, and I can go on and on! We, as working women, moms, grandmoms, single moms - we have had to fight against, according to you, this non-publicized viewpoint for YEARS. You yourself, I'm sure, have participated in this fight - at Wharton and so on down the road in a very dad-dominated (but scarcely a mom in sight) business world.

Every working mom that gets her viewpoint out there is doing a huge service to all women (here CTOC goes again, up on her high horse) because we have been fighting for so many generations just to be taken seriously as working women AND moms (gasp!). I don't feel at all sorry if finally working moms are getting some media play.

There. Rant over.

Posted by: Cream of the Crop | May 29, 2007 2:48 PM

Leslie,

I normally would not attack you because I often agree with the things you write but this made me so steamed I had to post something without even reading other comments, so forgive me if I'm duplicating (and I suspect I will be). I promise to go back and read them after I vent a bit here.

How could you possibly say that SAHMs are *under*represented by the media? Do you not count in your unscientific summation of opinions all of the working mothers (e.g., Dr. Laura and her ilk) who make a career (ironically) of propogating the life of stay-at-home moms and make us workers feel like the scrouge of the earth??

The SAHM point of view is getting plenty of airtime - and it's called the bulk of the Republican agenda, the ingrained notions of society at large, and I can go on and on! We, as working women, moms, grandmoms, single moms - we have had to fight against, according to you, this non-publicized viewpoint for YEARS. You yourself, I'm sure, have participated in this fight - at Wharton and so on down the road in a very dad-dominated (but scarcely a mom in sight) business world.

Every working mom that gets her viewpoint out there is doing a huge service to all women (here CTOC goes again, up on her high horse) because we have been fighting for so many generations just to be taken seriously as working women AND moms (gasp!). I don't feel at all sorry if finally working moms are getting some media play.

There. Rant over.

Posted by: Cream of the Crop | May 29, 2007 2:49 PM

Either way, they have Social Security deducted, and the illegals (who list other people's numbers) aren't able to collect later on what they've paid in.

Where do they get other people's numbers from? I mean I wouldn't give someone my number so they must steal them?

I agree with single western mom. Look up that bill and all the stuff that is attached to it, I bet even the most liberal of liberals wouldn't like the deal they are getting.

Posted by: scarry | May 29, 2007 2:50 PM

Moxie, thanks -- never heard of the trinomial cube, so guess I'll need to ask her tonight. :-) I don't know if it's that they can't find stuff for her so much as they don't seem to have the interest in doing so; seems like they figure she's in the "advanced" group, and so they've done their job, and the rest is on her. Honestly, I've seen too much paperwork and not enough evidence of creative work of late. I think it's marketing -- they seem to "sell" themselves as producing better "performance" than the public school kindergarten, and I think that has driven them to focus more on worksheets and "quantifiable" skills in kindergarten. Yeah, it's nice that it's a second-grade reading book, but it's still a freaking worksheet, ya know?

At this point, school year ends in a month, so we're just waiting for summer and new teachers, and trying to let her explore things she's interested in at home (currently, evolution, dinosaurs, and volcanoes, plus doing simple multiplication in the car with dad, the Uber-Geek). We'll pay some pretty close attention next fall -- class sizes get smaller as most other kids go to local elementary schools for 1st grade, and she'll be with older kids, so I'm hoping that will bring more opportunities for her to be excited and eneergized again like it was until 6 mos. or so ago.

Posted by: Laura | May 29, 2007 2:54 PM

Well, if you want more American citizens to take migrant, or janitorial, or whatever jobs, why not offer better money and benefits?

It's getting next-to-impossible to hire high schoolers to be lifeguards anymore, let alone back-breaking manual labour, playing around hazardous chemicals for less than minimum wage.

Maybe farm workers should be subject to the minimum wage. You might get more citizens applying for the jobs that way.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 2:57 PM

I have also seen studies in academic journals that show that many boys who are kept back a year get into trouble in middle school as a result of being older than their peers. Unfortunately I read these papers about 15 years ago and do not remember the citations. These studies discuss a population risk and do NOT mean your specific, undoubtably well-adapted child will have problems.

Posted by: to Megan's neighbor | May 29, 2007 2:59 PM

Laura - it is the end of the year so the inevitable wind down happens. I noticed a decided lack of enthusiasm in my kinder son this spring. I think he's looking forward to elementary and I'm glad that he will be around older kids again for the aspirational benefit he gets. SOunds like you are doing great stuff at home with her! She's a lucky kid! I also agree that worksheets suck. I hope you guys have a great summer!

Posted by: Moxiemom | May 29, 2007 3:06 PM

In our school (small, catholic) we have a program called Young Fives. Kindergarten is full day and more academiclly oriented. Young Fives is more like the kindergarten I remember. Learning to sit in a circle, shapes, colors, letters, numbers, don't hit your neighbor, etc. My son has an August birthday and it was suggested that he attend Young Fives instead of K. It worked out very well for us. The principal said they prefer kids to be at least 5 1/2 before starting K. It essentially adds another year to grade school, but it was worth it.

Posted by: HappyMom | May 29, 2007 3:08 PM

Laura - forgot this - check out the link too for Montessori stuff.

http://www.fmployola.com/materials.htm

Trinomial Cube
The Trinomial Cube is a concrete representation of the algebraic formula (a+b+c)3. The factors of the equation are represented by the cubes and prisms. The primary Montessori child explores the Trinomial cube as a sensorial activity of visual discrimination of color and form. This indirect preparation for algebra prepares the child for the elementary Montessori class.

Posted by: Moxiemom | May 29, 2007 3:10 PM

I also saw some studies that showed children who were older than their peers tended to have more behavior problems. I seem to recall, however, that they were talking about children who were several years older than their peers - like a 15 year old sixth grader - rather than just a year or so.

Posted by: RT | May 29, 2007 3:11 PM

Young Fives is more like the kindergarten I remember. Learning to sit in a circle, shapes, colors, letters, numbers, don't hit your neighbor, etc

And this sounds like what my daughter has learned since she was about one and a half in day care. I bet as a teacher it is hard to teach to all different levels of kids. I don't mean this as snarky either. I can just see where kids who either attend day care or the young fives program may be ahead of some children who do not have any kind of pre-school learning environment.

Posted by: scarry | May 29, 2007 3:15 PM

MM, that is cool -- sounds especially right up my son's alley (former English major here going "huh?"). Thanks for the kind words, and y'all enjoy your summer, too.

Posted by: Laura | May 29, 2007 3:32 PM

I believe the studies that point a greater risk for certain behaviors (violence, drug use, early sexual debut, etc.) in teens aren't talking about teens who delayed starting Kindergarten, but about teens who had been held back a grade. I believe this included being held back as early as Kindergarten. However, there is a difference between a parent making a choice to delay Kindergarten for a child who is borderline both age-wise and socially, and a child who started Kindergarten at the "traditional" age and was subsequently held back a year. I think the stigma of being labeled as "flunking" contributed to behavior problems that weren't addressed by parents and the schools early on that led to some of the behavior issues, in addition to the teens being older than their peers.

So many parents now are making the decision to wait on Kindergarten for children with summer b-days that I doubt they will be "older than all of their peers." As the practice becomes more mainstream, those children are less likely to be ostracized because they will have a peer group their own age, and even their younger peers will realize it's no big deal.

FYI, the study I saw found a similar risk (early sexual debut, drug use) for children who simply "looked older" than their peers, even if they weren't chronologically older. This was not true for the teens who looked younger.

The study also made the important conclusion that family life was central to a child's success and well-being.

A link, for those who are interested: http://allaboutkids.umn.edu/cfahad/Reducing_the_risk.pdf

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 29, 2007 3:34 PM

Are there public montessouri schools?

Posted by: Jen S. | May 29, 2007 3:35 PM

We saw some strange situations in my children's old school where the practice of "double redshirting" was common. Child was not SIX in kindergarten, but SEVEN. My favorite was the third grade class where several of the girls wore bras and had crushes on boys and were undergoing puberty -- while several of the other children still believed in Santa Claus. Academic issues aside, this has got to be a nightmare for a teacher. (Also, I'd prefer that there not be twenty year old boys hitting on my daughter when she attends high school as a fourteen year old freshman. Isn't that . . illegal?)

The problem with the double red-shirting is when the "older" kindergarteners pick on the little ones for doing things that are still developmentally within the norm -- like crying or having the occasional bathroom accident. It seems to me that there might be a strong correlation between the increase in bullying and these huge age spans in the classrooms now.

Also, can someone explain to me how a parent can logically argue that their second grader is "gifted" because he's doing third-grade math, when the child in question is nine? Shouldn't he be doing fourth grade math? It seems like the truly gifted kids don't need these weird advantages like red-shirting.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | May 29, 2007 3:36 PM

My daughter is a January birthday. I was told she will be 5 going on 6 when she starts kindergarten. I was told that was normal age to start kindergarten. I don't know too many parents that would want to hold their child back two grades just to give them some kind of weird competitive advantage. What do they do for the two years they were supppose to be in school? I can't see preschools allowing 6 year old with 4 year olds.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 29, 2007 3:43 PM

"red-shirting"

What does this mean?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 3:44 PM

"1:37 - all of the kindergartners I know can read at a basic level by the end of the year and they all went in at the proper time. To suggest that its outrageous to expect kindgergartners to read I think is not valid. My 4 year old can read 3 letter words. Maybe we are defining "reading" differently."

Look, to expect that ALL kindergarten children will be able to read by the end of the year is ridiculous. Not all children are ready. As long as they are reading by 3rd grade that is fine. Pushing children to read or do anything they are not ready for will turn them off. Focusing all of their time on this one skill neglects many others they need to work on that year.

And FYI---early reading is not necessarily associated with performance later. Just because a kid CAN learn to read then doesn't mean it's the best thing to do---there are other skills such as listening, observing, social, etc that are learned in other ways. Fixating on one skill is not wise.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 3:45 PM

RT:
Late starts and early retention does have a ripple effect.

My sons attended a private K-8 school with a level called pre-first (for children who needed an additional year before starting first grade).
When #2 graduated 8th grade (yeah, I know what you're thinking, but it's a cute little ceremony), two students out of the 39 in the group were at least two years older than the rest of the class (late kindergarten start and a year in pre-first). One of them also repeated fourth grade, and she had her learner's permit!
These older students (the 16-year-old 8th-grader, specifically) did skew the class to an older sensibility, one that is inappropriate for 13-year-old children. The older children were indeed problem kids in several ways.
Admittedly, this is only one unscientific observation.

In reference to full-day Kindergarten:
It is true that a phenomenal amount of learning takes place in the early childhood years. However, the learning discussed in most studies really refers to language awareness, the awareness of the existence of abstractions, and the development of synapses. What we do in the early years is increase a child's ability to learn new things. Early readers do not maintain their advantage after about third grade, in most instances.
All the focus on academics for 5-year-olds is misplaced. We should be concerned with providing more open-ended experiences designed to foster readiness skills. Those kids who want to read should be encouraged, but graded reading should start with first grade, IMHO.

Posted by: educmom | May 29, 2007 3:46 PM

Armchair Mom -- I was curious about the "gifted" label being thrown around in this context as well. The school district out here is very strict about how children are evaluated for the GATE program, so there's really not an advantage to being older. Ironically, I suspect this is due to finances -- the harder they make it to get into GATE, the fewer kids they need to supply services to.

Anyway, it appears that many districts have a lower threshold for the "gifted" designation, and some bow to parental pressure, which is sad.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 29, 2007 3:46 PM

red shirting is holding a child back from starting kindergarten. I think the origin came from sports. Red shirt freshmen on sports teams.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 29, 2007 3:46 PM

To F04,
Presenting anecdotes does not support your argument. Schools are not childcare, they are not set up to accomodate a work schedule and parents send their kids to school to learn.

As others have so elegantly pointed out---schools were developed during the industrial revolution to create a learned workforce and populace. The annual schedule was created when we were a predominantly agrarian society. I assure you school boards do not sit around discussing how to acccomodate working parents' schedules.

Posted by: working mother | May 29, 2007 3:48 PM

"red-shirting"

What does this mean?

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 03:44 PM

It means deciding to not have your child start kindergarten the first year they are chronologically qualified. Sometimes it is done because the kid is too immature to really be much more than a disruptive pest (like one of my kids!), more & more it is done so parents can have their more mature child seen as extra-special bright, and outshine their (year younger) peers.

The fact that it now has a rather widely accepted nickname for the practice is a pretty good indication of just how often it has been used. And abused.

It's a term that comes from soccer.

Posted by: Mako | May 29, 2007 3:50 PM

Actually, red-shirted players practice with a team and can receive D-1 scholarship money. But there are certain restrictions on their practices and they do not play, and therefore do not lose a year of NCAA eligibility.

Posted by: educmom | May 29, 2007 4:01 PM

Redshirting Reasons:
1. Child is immature and cannot let go
2. Mother is immature and cannot let go
3. Mother is immature AND insecure and wants her child to 'outshine' the others
4. Mother forgot to register the child

I see no other reasons!!!

Posted by: Him | May 29, 2007 4:03 PM

My son has a January B-day and went to daycare until he was old enough to go to kindergarten in Montgomery County (which wasn't until he was 5 and a half). In daycare, he learned his letters, numbers, colors, shapes, etc. He also knew how to sit and listen to stories during circle time, could write his name, follow directions, and do most of the stuff that I remember was once learned in kindergarten. I really think he was quite bored during the last year of daycare, but since he wasn't allowed in kindergarten yet, we had to wait. I can't imagine waiting another year just so that he would be the best and the brightest. He would have been bored out of his mind.

In our school, they grouped the kids according to how much pre-school experience they had, because the kids had great varying degrees of it. Some kids had gone to daycare or preschool for years and others not at all. It was explained to us that while the same curriculum was taught, that the grouping would make it easier for the teachers to focus with each group on the skills that that particular group was most ready to tackle.

In MC, most kids are reading at list very simple books by the end of kindergarten. It does seem as if kindergarten is the new first grade. But I don't think this is inappropriate for all kids, especially the ones who have been exposed to the more basic readiness skills in preschool or daycare. My son was ready to start reading by the time kindergarten came. It seemed like a relatively painless step for him, and now, he loves to read for fun.

My feeling is not that kindergarten should be dumbed down, but rather, that there should be a stronger emphasis on pre-schools and daycares that provide kids with the foundations for elementary school. But since such programs are private for the most part, I know that there will be issues with this idea. Ideally, I think that a year of pre-K should become a part of the publicly funded elementary school curriculum.

Posted by: Emily | May 29, 2007 4:09 PM

There is evidence of ill effects to delayed entry. May not be a panacea. Also these studies show that there is NO benefit to holding kids back.

The following article demonstrates NO BENEFIT from delayed entry:

Does the Age That Children Start Kindergarten Matter? Evidence of Long-Term Educational and Social Outcomes
Jane Arnold Lincove
University of Texas-Austin

Gary Painter

University of Southern California


The appropriate age for students to begin school is an issue of debate for educators, administrators, and parents. Parents worry that young children may not be able to compete with older classmates; schools worry that young students will not be able to meet rigorous academic standards associated with school accountability. Past literature is inconclusive as to the overall effect of age at school entry. Some research suggests that younger students have lower average achievement in early elementary school, while others find that students with summer birthdates, who are assumed to be younger at school entry, gain more education on average. At present, little is known about the impact of age at school entry on education attainment as students transition from high school into college and the labor market. This study uses data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey to examine long-term effects of age at school entry on both educational and social outcomes, with special attention to those students who enter kindergarten a year later than their peers. The results of this study suggest that delaying kindergarten does not create any long-term advantages for students.

The following articles demonstrates harm from delayed entry:

Increased Behavior Problems Associated With Delayed School Entry and Delayed School Progress

Received Oct 17, 1996; accepted Mar 13, 1997.

Robert S. Byrd*, Michael Weitzman*, and Peggy Auinger
From the * Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry; and the Department of Pediatrics, Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, New York.

Objective. To investigate whether students who are old-for-grade have higher rates of reported behavior problems and to investigate whether this association is independent of having been retained a grade in school.

Methods. Cross-sectional analyses of parental reports from the nationally representative sample of 9079 children ages 7 to 17 years who participated in the Child Health Supplement to the 1988 National Health Interview Survey. Students older than the modal age for their grade were considered old-for-grade, either due to delayed school entry (those without grade retention) or to delayed school progress (with history of grade retention). Behavior problems were defined as scores >90th percentile on a well-utilized, standardized Behavior Problem Index (BPI).

Results. Twenty-six percent of 7- to 17-year-old children in the United States are old-for-grade. Being old-for-grade is more common in males (31%), blacks (33%), Hispanics (32%), those living in single-parent households (31%) or poverty (43%), and those with mothers with low educational attainment (42%). Most children (84%) who repeated a grade are old-for-grade, but only 54% of old-for-grade students have been retained. For children who were old-for-grade, 19% of those grade-retained and 12% of those nonretained had extreme BPI scores, and for those not old-for-grade, 17% of grade-retained and 7% of nonretained children had extreme BPI scores. Although rates of extreme BPI scores were consistently lower for children who were neither old-for-grade nor grade-retained, and consistently higher for those with both, these rates increased with age for children who were old-for-grade without being retained. Controlling for multiple potential confounders with logistic regression, both old-for-grade status and grade retention are independently associated with increased rates of behavior problems. Separate logistic regression analyses for blacks and whites showed that these findings pertained only to white children.

Conclusions. Whereas grade retention is associated with increased rates of behavior problems in children and adolescents, simply being older than others in one's class, without having experienced grade retention, is also associated with increased rates of behavior problems, most noticeably among adolescents. These data suggest that there may be latent adverse behavioral outcomes that result from delaying children's school entry.

Doing harm by doing good: latrogenic effects of early childhood enrollment and promotion policies*1

Samuel J. Meisels, 1
The University of Michigan, USA

Available online 12 August 2002.

Abstract

Recent national concerns about the educational achievement of U.S. students have resulted in an increased emphasis on readiness for school and, in combination with the pervasive effects of mandated standardized testing, have led to several enrollment and promotion practices that have negative consequences for young children. This paper examines the rationale and research data about four of these practices: raising the age at entry, retention in grade, extra-year and transition programs, and parental holding out from kindergarten. The problematic effects of these phenomena are identified, and their role in establishing a "four-tiered kindergarten" is described. An alternative approach to conceptualizing readiness that is free of these negative effects is presented.

Other article citations below

Cameron, MB, & Wilson, BJ. (1990). The effects of chronological age, gender, and delay of entry on academic achievement and retention: Implication for academic redshirting. Psychology in the Schools, 27, 260-263[ISI]

Alexander, KL, Entwisle, DR, & Horsey, CS. (1997). From first grade forward: Early foundations of high school dropout. Sociology of Education, 70(2), 87-102

Byrd, RS, Weitzman, M, & Auinger, P. (1997). Increased behavioral problems associated with delayed school entry and delayed school progress. Pediatrics, 100(4), 654-661

Brent, D, May, DC, & Kundert, DK. (1996). The incidence of delayed school entry: A twelve year review. Early Education and Development, 7(2), 121-135

Andrea M. Noel‌, Joan Newman‌. (2003) Why Delay Kindergarten Entry? A Qualitative Study of Mothers' Decisions. Early Education and Development 14:4, 479-498

Kundert, D, May, D, & Brent, D. (1995). A comparison of students who delay kindergarten entry and those who are retained in grades K-5. Psychology in the Schools, 32, 202-209[ISI]

I could cite many more. I didn't look very hard for the studies showing increased pregnancy rates for girls who are older than their grade peers and increased substance use among "older" teens.

Posted by: Ill effects of delayed K entry | May 29, 2007 4:11 PM

working mother:
I can assure you the chapel hill carrboro system *does* sit around and discuss how to accomodate working parent's schedules. Examples are: free after school care paid by the district, late school start times care provided, evening teacher, principal, school board, committee meeting times scheduled (in spanish and in english), ways to keep working parents informed of day-to-day activities (e.g., automatic emails and computer automated telephone messages), etc. etc. etc.

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 4:13 PM

The fact that you found one typo in an entry written at over 150 words a minute that I don't proofread is a remarkable achievement. What a jacka** you are.

Posted by: To "Megan's neighbor" | May 29, 2007 4:13 PM

"working mother:
I can assure you the chapel hill carrboro system *does* sit around and discuss how to accomodate working parent's schedules. Examples are: free after school care paid by the district, late school start times care provided, evening teacher, principal, school board, committee meeting times scheduled (in spanish and in english), ways to keep working parents informed of day-to-day activities (e.g., automatic emails and computer automated telephone messages), etc. etc. etc"

And they should. But they don't talk about school itself as being day care for children. And schools were not created to accomodate parents' work schedules. We are discussing apples and oranges here. Fo4 was asserted "Free childcare for 30 hours a week from grades 1 through 12 in public school and now most jurisdictions are moving to full day kindergarten too." He is insinuating that the purpose of school is government supported daycare, that it is its only purpose and that the purpose of expanding kindergarten is to accomodate working parents.

I think you're a little confused.

Posted by: Working mother | May 29, 2007 4:17 PM

meeting times scheduled (in spanish and in english)

Just awful. More tax money wasted because people won't assimilate..

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 4:19 PM

Redshirting Reasons:
1. Child is immature and cannot let go
2. Mother is immature and cannot let go
3. Mother is immature AND insecure and wants her child to 'outshine' the others
4. Mother forgot to register the child

I see no other reasons!!!

Posted by: Him | May 29, 2007 04:03 PM

I can see at least one more Father is immature AND insecure and want his child to 'outshine' the others - living your life vicariously through your child affects both genders.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | May 29, 2007 4:20 PM

I agree with Emily

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 4:21 PM

I can see at least one more Father is immature AND insecure and want his child to 'outshine' the others - living your life vicariously through your child affects both genders.

Ha, that is the truth. Just ask the guy down the street who uses a speed machine to measure his son's pitches.

Posted by: scarry | May 29, 2007 4:22 PM

Thank you Divorced mom of 1. Hee hee hee

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 4:22 PM

I am enjoying the conversation about holding back and kindergarten. My kids are both normal chronological age and would not need to be held back for any reason, nor would I want them to be held back. I have a completely different perspective on this issue. I don't want them to be behind other younger kids. I really don't see what is so cool for being the oldest in class. Graduate college when you are 24 and miss out on two years of adult life? I am concerned, however, that more and more parents are holding back kids with legitimate chronological ages for all sort of reasons, none of them having to do with "developmental readiness". I know a mother who is holding back a summer birthday boy who is off the charts for height. I don't see what schools can do to "force" parents to send kids to K when they are supposed too. I am not concerned about my kids performing academically against these older kids, but I am concerned about social influences they will bring.

Posted by: fedmom | May 29, 2007 4:24 PM

"Just awful. More tax money wasted because people won't assimilate."

I just had to respond to this. I am all for immigrants learning English. After all, it is the gateway to success and prosperity in this country. But I also am all for schools providing parents with information in a language they can understand. Much better to have involved parents than to have parents who are disconnected because they have not learned the language yet.

And to all those who would just say that the parents should just learn the language, my response is that it is incredibly difficult to learn a new language as an adult. It is not like learning to drive. It literally can take a few years for someone who is trying very hard. Most immigrants are trying very hard to assimilate even as they work, raise their children, and adapt to a new culture. Cut them a break already!!

Posted by: Emily | May 29, 2007 4:25 PM

Sorry, I meant to say "Parents" instead of "Mother" My fault...(slapping myself in the face)

Posted by: Him | May 29, 2007 4:26 PM

Cut them a break already!!

No, they are not or they would not be in the streets protesting in Spanish. They don't want to learn our language; they want us to learn theirs. Wake up America before we are a third world country. .

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 4:28 PM

To 4:28

Alright. I guess there is nothing I can do about the ignorant bigots like you. Go ahead and wallow in that racist mire. You will eventually drown in it anyway.

Posted by: Emily | May 29, 2007 4:31 PM

" If everyone was a SAHM, then we would have a glut of volunteers for schools and it may not be as rewarding for those that are volunteering. "

FOMCL!!! Do you really think that all SAHMs volunteer?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 4:32 PM

"And to all those who would just say that the parents should just learn the language, my response is that it is incredibly difficult to learn a new language as an adult. It is not like learning to drive. It literally can take a few years for someone who is trying very hard. Most immigrants are trying very hard to assimilate even as they work, raise their children, and adapt to a new culture. Cut them a break already!!"

Emily, I have heard that it takes about 3 generations for immigrant families (from anywhere English isn't spoken) to completely assimilate. Which, for anyone panicking right now, happens faster than you might think.

When I heard the 3-generation comment, I thought of a good friend of mine from HS. His grandparents are Mexican immigrants and speak very little English. They had to learn as adults and, as you mention, it's much more difficult to pick up a second language in middle age than as a child. His parents were bilingual and moved easily between both worlds. My friend spoke only English and still doesn't know any Spanish.

Frankly, I hope immigrant families from any country work harder to keep their native language (and ensure that their children learn it) in addition to learning English. Being multi-lingual is a valuable asset.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 4:35 PM

4:35 was me. Sorry.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 29, 2007 4:38 PM

To 4:35 - Your description of your Mexican friend's family sounds a lot like my own family. My grandmother spoke broken English (but believe me, she made sure people understoond her). My parents learned English as adults, but it did take them a few years to become comfortable with it. I learned Spanish first as a child, and am fluent, and but also learned English in elementary school. I don't remember learning it at all, it seemed to come so easily. My son's first language is English, but we are working hard to make sure he understands and speaks Spanish at home, and with his grandparents. We really want him to be biligual, although English is his stronger language.

To me, knowing another language and understanding another culture is just pure enrichment, and has made my life so much more interesting. I really want the same for my son.

Posted by: Emily | May 29, 2007 4:41 PM

Alright. I guess there is nothing I can do about the ignorant bigots like you. Go ahead and wallow in that racist mire. You will eventually drown in it anyway.

That really absurd. Wanting people to learn English and assimilate does not make me racist. Just like your little outburst doesn't necessarily make you a b$$$$.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 4:42 PM

4:42 - See? You are drowning already.

Posted by: Emily | May 29, 2007 4:45 PM

Emily, I gotta disagree. One of my co-workers came to the US from Norway when she was 16 (nearly an adult). She had to learn English without the benefit of having materials printed in Norwegian. She went to college and taught school for many years.

I grew up in South Florida where you have American-born Hispanics that cannot speak English. If you get lost in Hialeah (a suburb of Miami) and don't speak Spanish, you will stay lost. The last Census indicated that 100% of Hialeah respondents indicated that English was a second language.

I have NO problem with our government having to print materials in tribal languages as Native Americans were here first, but the idea that we have American-born citizens who speak English as a second language is inexcusable. Political pandering makes this possible.

And yeah, it was unnerving to watch thousands of people parading past my office on the way to our state capital waving Mexican flags and yelling in Spanish. It was difficult to see this as anything other than an invasion. And play the race card if you like: I've been part of a bi-racial, multi-national family since 1977.

It's about what is legal and what is not legal. Illegal immigration is illegal; what other laws do you suggest we simply ignore? Should we stop enforcing DUI laws? After all, alcoholism is a disease, so we are discriminating against alcoholics by targeting people with this particular disease (hey, maybe the law firms represnting Hilton adn Lohan will use this defense...)

And it's not fair to people like my co-worker and millions of other Legal IMMIGRANTS who play by the rules, learn English and assimilate.

Posted by: single western mom | May 29, 2007 4:47 PM

Yes, Emily you get to call people names but when someone returns the favor they have the problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 4:47 PM

oh no, single western mom is a racist. I am so sad.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 4:54 PM

Single Western Mom,
Learning English and assimilating are two different things. I can agree with learning English in order to communiate better in this country. However, assimilating is specific to each culture. Which culture do you suggest immigrants assimilate to? High class, middle class, or low class like yourself.

Posted by: He | May 29, 2007 4:57 PM

SWM,
I was not talking about illegal immigration. I was talking about how long it takes to learn English as an adult. Comparing your 16 year old Norwegian friend to a middle aged person is really unfair. The human brain is much more flexible and can learn a new language more easily at 16 than at 30 or 40. I have an aunt who learned English at 16 and she barely has an accent. My dad, however, came to the US later in life and had a more pronounced accent and a more difficult time learning English. Still, he learned.

I think that Florida is probably not entirely representative of how immigrants assimilate. In the area where I grew up (DC), there are plenty of Spanish speaking immigrants (some illegal and some not -- I don't know the breakdowns), but by and large, the younger generations speak English well, even if their parents don't speak it perfectly. And yes, probably the grandparents don't speak it very well at all. But the three generation span seems right to me. The first generation comes and works incredibly hard to get established. Their children are bilingual and move easily between the two worlds, and eventually, their grandchildren become fully assimilated. I imagine if was very similar to immigrants from the non-Englsih speaking European countries as well. But with people from South and Central America, there is a racist factor involved as well, because there is a difference in skin color. Which is why I think there are such rabid feelings among white, English speaking, descendants of European immigrants against the latest wave of immigrants from Central and South America. There have always been harsh feelings against immigrants, be it the Poles, Italians, Irish, Eastern Europeans, etc. But I think the latest wave of anti-immigrant sentiment is especially harsh, and that it's root lies in racism.

Posted by: Emily | May 29, 2007 4:58 PM

Are there public montessouri schools?


Posted by: Jen S. | May 29, 2007 03:35 PM

Jen, I don't know. There may be some charter schools that use the Montessori method. YOu might try Googling it. Good luck. It really is an amazing way to teach children.

Posted by: Moxiemom | May 29, 2007 5:01 PM

So we all agree that Single Western Mom is a racist...nice to know for future posts.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 5:02 PM

"High class, middle class, or low class like yourself."

How about they just strive to be Americans.

No, SWM is not a racist, but it is starting to sound like Emily is.

Posted by: to he | May 29, 2007 5:06 PM

And it's not fair to people like my co-worker and millions of other Legal IMMIGRANTS who play by the rules, learn English and assimilate.

Posted by: single western mom | May 29, 2007 04:47 PM

In parts of the midwest and some northern states there are towns where all the signs, store names, etc are all in German. There are even German flags. I think if Mexican immigrants want to wave their home country's flag they should be allowed to as much as I am allowed to burn my own. Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly. They can be proud of who they are and still want to be Americans. The problem is the immigration game is totally rigged against them. It used to be you could move/work in the US and become a citizen irregardless of where you came from (a hundred years ago or so). Now the code is written to restrict how many Latinos we take in. I guess the melting pot is closed, go home. And God forbid you are bilingual or are proud of where you or your parents immigrated from. Please go back to your third world country where you can't even get fresh water; America is closed and you showed up too late.

Posted by: Miles | May 29, 2007 5:08 PM

"America is closed and you showed up too late."

No, I think what Single Western Mom is saying is that "America is closed and you showed up too dark!!!"

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 5:10 PM

"So we all agree that Single Western Mom is a racist...nice to know for future posts."

Speak for yourself. I don't think she is racist.

Posted by: nona | May 29, 2007 5:11 PM

SWM,
Question for you. Does a Saint Patrick's Day parade upset you as much as seeing Mexican immigrants at a Spanish speaking rally? If not, why not?

Posted by: Emily | May 29, 2007 5:13 PM

Working mother:
But I already wrote about how the school board is opening a special free public preschool to take care of the problem of daycare in kindergarten! Didn't you read that? You wrote school boards do not ever consider working parents. I assert they do. maybe you are confused on what Fo4 meant.

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 5:15 PM

Does anyone know just how common this "redshirting" thing is? I find it had to fathom why a parent would want their kid to be the oldest in the class. It bugs me enough that DD will be almost 6 when she enters kindergarten (scool cutoff is 9/30, she's a December baby). Can't imagine an almost-seven year old in K.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 29, 2007 5:23 PM

thanks Moxiemom-- I very quickly found a 2006 study published in the journal "Science" that concluded that Montessori students performed better than their standard public school counterparts in a variety of arenas, including not only traditional academic areas such as language and mathematical reasoning, but in social cognition skills as well. [2]:

On several dimensions, children at a public inner city Montessori school had superior outcomes relative to a sample of Montessori applicants who, because of a random lottery, attended other schools. By the end of kindergarten, the Montessori children performed better on standardized tests of reading and math, engaged in positive interaction on the playground more, and showed advanced social cognition and executive control more. They also showed more concern for fairness and justice. At the end of elementary school, Montessori children wrote more creative essays with more complex sentence structures, selected more positive responses to social dilemmas, and reported feeling more of a sense of community at their school.

The authors concluded that, "when strictly implemented, Montessori education fosters social and academic skills that are equal or superior to those fostered by a pool of other types of schools."

That all sounds great-- but I have the baggage of knowing that my sister attended a (private) Montessouri schools early in school and then had to switch to regular public schools after we moved to a new area without montessouri schools and she was absolutely miserable-- so perhaps there is a real risk of causing damage if at some point you need to get your child out of the Montessouri method. It didn't alter her personality, but I think it was a tough transition that has had a lasting impression on how she sees herself as a student.

But if you feel you can make the commitment to it for as long possible and prepare the child for the transition to traditional education if that day must someday arrive, it really sounds great!


Posted by: Jen S. | May 29, 2007 5:24 PM

Single Western Mom --

With all due respect, learning a second language at 16, as your Norwegian friend did, is very different than learning a second language at 35. Plus, I'm guessing that your Norwegian friend comes from a much more educated and affluent background than the average Mexican migrant worker. That makes a difference as well. And, her European features probably made it easier for her as she was learning English in an American culture that still has more than a few vestiges of racism. I'm sure her initial difficulties were deemed more charming and anti-American.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 29, 2007 5:24 PM

should have been --

more charming THAN anti-American.

Washed my hands and can't do a thing with them.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 29, 2007 5:27 PM

Isn't it nice that when someone says something with which you disagree, you can just label them a racist and ignore them, rather than respond to their arguments?

And for the record, immigrants from southeastern Europe around the turn of the 20th century were not considered white. The definition of white has expanded as those groups assimilated into the mainstream.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 5:53 PM

Racists should be ignored. They don't deserve attention.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 5:57 PM

st patrick's day parades are in english, not in gaelic or in irish.

i do imagine these parades might have been offensive in the 1800s.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 6:03 PM

So you would feel better if these Mexican immigrants were speaking English during their rallies rather than Spanish?

Didn't think so.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 6:06 PM

I think I would be more comfortable hearing (possibly) angry chants in English. Especially since my grasp of Spanish is rudimentary. Nice to know what is going on if all is not "sweetness and light."

Also frankly, if you are trying to change my/our country, I am not sure waving the flags of other countries is helpful (unless of course you are picketing Mexico's embassy to lobby the United States).

Posted by: In support of SWM | May 29, 2007 6:11 PM

Ok, I'll give you an anecdote. My son was a mess k-2. He was referred by his school for testing for learning disabilities---he didn't read in kindergarten and couldn't hold a pencil until 3rd grade (we knew he was extraordinarily intelligent anyway, there are other skills other than reading). He tested in the top 1% of all children and the person doing the assessment told me she only sees one kid like that a year. She said under no circumstances should he be held back in any way and he has to be in the highest level classes and in fact recommended gifted programs. He just needed some minor accomodations until he could write on his own (no learning disabilities, all developmental and I bet most parents would have held back, a huge mistake). He is now in high school and started algebra in 6th grade and even back then read on a college level. He took the SAT in 7th grade and got 700s. Hold that kid back? He is an extreme example, but when making this decision parents need to look ahead and consider the consequences in later years. Think about your kid hitting puberty in 5-6th grade instead of 7th-8th grade.

So I agree with those above who separate the early years from middle school. Some boys take a little extra time to mature developmentally. Holding children back (children who fall in the normal range) does a huge disservice to children--those who are held back and those in the class who are age appropriate.

And "Silver Spring" I hear you. It is ridiculous. I wouldn't dare call my son gifted in front of school personnel/teachers until after he takes whatever standardized tests are given so they have objective evidence. Too many parents think their kids are gifted and they are not.

Posted by: To dotted (from working mother) | May 29, 2007 6:28 PM

Jen S. - thanks for the research. All the positive outcomes are a big part of why we love Montessori - especailly how they integrate respect and responsibility into all they do as opposed to a separate unit. We are concerned about the ultimate transition and are taking the whole thing one year at a time. Thanks for the good vibes.

Posted by: Moxiemom | May 29, 2007 6:33 PM

Hey working mother!
Can we agree it should be an individual choice, rather than one driven by 'keeping up with the jones'???

so many choices in life.

MN, can I ask what you chose in your Wake county decision on YR vs. traditional? I think I remember you were going to private but maybe my rememberer is broken. Also did you choose a beach? We went to Sunset this past weekend. It was a perfect blast!!

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 6:53 PM

st patrick's day parades are in english, not in gaelic or in irish.

i do imagine these parades might have been offensive in the 1800s

Most Irish people spoke English because they had it forced on them by the British government. However, when they did come over here they chose to speak it because that is what it took to get ahead. In the home was one thing, in the street was another. They were already second class citizens, so why make it worse. On that note, they didn't come over here with their hands out either. I find it infuriating that people come here illegally and then ask for rights. And, no they do not have the right to protest peacefully or otherwise because they are not citizens of this country. Why don't they protest in Mexico?

I am all for legal immigration, but I agree with single western mom on this one and it doesn't make me racist either. I have Mexicans in my family who came here legally and they are appalled by illegal immigrations too. Now, ask me how I feel about the 200, 000 or so Irish who are also here illegally? I say send them back and let them wait their turn too. Am I racist against my own people? It's not fair to people who have been waiting in line for years. For me it has nothing to do with race. However, when you talk about race you have to acknowledge that it's just not white people who don't want as you all say the other brown people here illegally; it's Americans who don't want them here illegally.

I have also lived and been all over the Midwest, I would love to see the German towns, can you point me in the direction of one.

Posted by: scarry | May 29, 2007 7:12 PM

Racists should be ignored. They don't deserve attention.

Wait, I thought freedom of speech included everyone. You can't have it both ways buddy.

Not that I am saying I am racist or SWM.

Posted by: scarry | May 29, 2007 7:15 PM

dotted,

Thanks for the shout-out and your good vibes today.

We went affordably private (not the coolest, not the best technology, no amazing test scores), not over any calendar, but over the frequency of the reassignment process, the lack of experience of the teachers to which our children were assigned 2 out of 3 years, and high class sizes (26, 28, 28).

We haven't picked a beach yet. (worse yet, I don't have the summer covered for either child and they're both out of school next week - yikes!) We went to Emerald Isle this past weekend with friends. The volume of broken shells made my kids' feet hurt. For a long (free) weekend, it was fine, but if it had been our vacation, we would have been disappointed. Is Sunset the same, or is it far enough south that the beach experience is more similar to South Carolina beaches?

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 29, 2007 7:19 PM

You are racist. And just as you have the right to air your racist viewpoints, people have the right to ignore you. It's really not such a hard concept.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 7:23 PM

You are racist. And just as you have the right to air your racist viewpoints, people have the right to ignore you. It's really not such a hard concept.

Wow, so intelligent. When you don't agree with someone's view point, just call them racist. That is okay, I really don't care how an ignorant person like you feels about me. I know I am not racist and everyone who knows me knows that.

Way to refute my points too. By the way, why aren't you ignoring me?

Posted by: scarry | May 29, 2007 7:29 PM

Racists should be ignored. They don't deserve attention.

Wait, I thought freedom of speech included everyone. You can't have it both ways buddy.

Not that I am saying I am racist or SWM.

Posted by: scarry | May 29, 2007 07:15 PM

What two ways are you suggesting buddy might have it, scarry? Racists are free to speak - by law. Those of us who are capable of identifing a racist as a racist are free to ignore the comments of racists - by law.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 7:34 PM

Backwoods hicks are usually racist. Nothing new there.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 7:34 PM

They are also the ones on welfare.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 7:38 PM

They are also the ones on welfare.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 7:38 PM

They are also the ones on welfare.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 7:38 PM

Backwoods hicks are usually racist. Nothing new there.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 07:34 PM

Do you have a point, 7:34? Otherwise your bias is showing like a red thong on a muffintop.

You might want to consider the height of your perch if your fight against racism relies on lobbing bigoted insults based on the state or economic background in which scarry has indicated she was raised.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 29, 2007 7:43 PM

You are right, but to call someone a racist because you disagree with their opinion is pretty pathetic rhetoric. You can ignore people who you think are racist, but they still have the right to voice their opinions just as you do. That was my point. I ignore the KKK, but they are still out there in their sheets.

Like I said before, am I racist against my own race who are here illegally? If you want to call someone a racist then I think you should defend that comment with more than just "you are a racist" because I said so. I can tell you that if there were 12 million Haitians here illegally, they would be back in the shark infested waters on their way back to Haiti. Oh wait, that is what we so to them every time they try to come over here.

Like I said before, if I am truly a racist why are you posting to me? Just ignore me like I am about to ignore you. You racist!!!

Posted by: scarry | May 29, 2007 7:44 PM

Just giving her a taste of her own medicine.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 7:45 PM

"I can tell you that if there were 12 million Haitians here illegally, they would be back in the shark infested waters on their way back to Haiti. Oh wait, that is what we so to them every time they try to come over here."

There's a law to be proud of, alright. We treat Haitians as we do because of the strong lobbying of the Cubans and because Haitians' skin is dark. What a prime example of how unprincipled our immigration laws are.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 7:48 PM

Megan's neighbor it's okay they don't bother me. Immigration is a heated debate and I expect some people to not be able to talk about it without pulling out the race card. In my case, the race card just doesn't work since I had a black boy friend, have black cousins, Mexican cousins, and a diverse number of friends, but I appreciate the thought. I don't see people by color, but I was brought up to respect the law and fairness also played a huge part in my life.

By the way, I was held back in first grade and turned out just fine. I was sick a lot and got behind. I was going to tell you earlier, but got busy at work. Good night.

And yes, 7:48 that was my point the immigration laws are not fair.

Posted by: scarry | May 29, 2007 7:52 PM

"By the way, I was held back in first grade and turned out just fine"

BWAHAHAHAHAAHA.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 7:55 PM

Just giving her a taste of her own medicine.

Posted by: | May 29, 2007 07:45 PM


Maybe if this poster had been redshirted, she'd have advanced to the second grade.

Relying on trite maxims posted anonymously is a lousy strategy for making the world a better place.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2007 7:56 PM

"to call someone a racist because you disagree with their opinion is pretty pathetic rhetoric."

If that were what happened, you'd have a point. It's not.

A person is rarely called a racist because someone disagrees with his opinion. He is identified as a racist because the manner in which he explains his opinion indicates underlying racist beliefs. As Edmund Burke is purported to have said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Identifying evil is the first step in preventing the triumph of racism. Maybe identifying it on a blog seems trivial, but it's akin to not letting a racist joke at a party go unchallenged.

Posted by: alice | May 29, 2007 8:07 PM

Thanks, scarry, and thanks for the personal comment. My husband lost a year due to a vehicular accident and school was entirely different for him after that and entirely positive. For the first time in school, he felt as though he was with kids who were at his level, so to speak. I'm quite comfortable as well with our decision and see zero, zilch, nada downside.

As you probably know, dictatorial, ignorant and uninformed parents exhibiting a high level of antipathy for choices they've not had to make tends to serve as a trigger for me :>)

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 29, 2007 8:14 PM

"As for all those people who opt to "red-shirt" their 5 year olds, what's happening now is that fewer & fewer 5 year olds are in kindergarten, so they no longer are seen as the norm for behaviour, etc. Instead, the 6 yo's are seen as the median.

It takes a real big kid to be intellectually and physically superior to a five year old. I know it makes their mommies & daddies really proud."

You took the words right out of my mouth. Yes, let's hold them back and then plop those big kids into kindergarten. So they can be smarter and more athletic. I suppose they should be, at 6+ years old. Looking like Baby Huey during circle time!

Posted by: redshirtingpuhleeze | May 29, 2007 8:21 PM

Leslie: Thanks for answering my question. I get now what you're saying. Hearing the voices of individual SAHMs is incredibly valuable. What I find of no value - actually of negative value - are the voices of people who presume to speak for X million individuals. There are already far too many people who basically say that if you work you don't care about your kids and others who say that if you don't work you don't care about yourself. Both are acting as if they represent the views of an entire category of people. But they don't. It's just their individual view.

Posted by: m | May 29, 2007 8:50 PM

MN,
Sunset has few shells...just wide open soft sand beachs. The beach has never hurt our feet in 20+ years. Beaches hurt feet whereever there has been sand replenishment (e.g., Oak island and parts of Ocean Isle). If you go online, try sunsetbeachnc.com and/or sunsetvacations.com for beach houses. Due to many people having money problems, there are a number of good houses available, even oceanfront. We drove down Friday afternoon leaving around 4pm via 15-501 south and never ran into traffic on a 3 day weekend. 3 1/2 hours including stops. 40 East is a nightmare.

Posted by: dotted | May 29, 2007 9:42 PM

Friend - I've been out all day; I'm just now catching up. To answer your question, I'm an image consultant, I shop for other people. I work for a PR firm. I have some background in the movie set industry as well. I used that background as a stepping stone with this current gig. I get paid well doing something that doesn't feel much like work. It works for me.

Posted by: getting closer | May 29, 2007 9:46 PM

"A person is rarely called a racist because someone disagrees with his opinion."

No, Alice that is exactly what happened to SWM and me. You are just too blinded by your own beliefs to see it. We both come from interracial families, feel legal immigration is fine, and feel sorry for all those other races and people standing in line legally. I who am a crazy Irish girl even said that the illegal Irish should have to go back and stand in line, so as far as I am concerned you and your anon posters don't have a leg to stand on and should be wiped from the blog for calling someone a racist for expressing an opinion. Good day madam and I hope that someone calls you a nasty name today.

You didn't respond to anything I said except to call me evil and a racist. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2007 8:33 AM

My family came here as political refugees in the 1980's. The United States welcomed my family, gave me an opportunity to get an education, and live the American Dream. Nothing was ever written anywhere in our language. We had to learn English to get a driver's license, get a job, graduate from high school, take SAT, and so on. This current debate about immigration and emmigration totally misses the mark. The United States IS a a country of LEGAL IMMIGRANTS. Maybe the current quota system needs to be examined and apportioned differently, but the proposed immigration bill is a complete amnesty and renders worthless those LEGAL immigrants who followed the rules to come here. Anybody who calls Single Western Mom or others who simply state the facts that a large percentage of spanish-speaking population chooses not to assimilate is not a racist, nor is anybody else on this blog or in general who is expressing frustration with the impact of th ILLEGAL immigraion on our society. Do we really need to be so politically correct that we chose to wear blinders on our eyes? What kind of world are we leaving for our children?

Posted by: political refugee | May 30, 2007 8:36 AM

Prove that a large percentage of Spanish speaking immigrants choose not to assimilate. It's just not true. Making that assumption with no underlying facts is just not true.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2007 10:21 AM

Prove that a large percentage of Spanish speaking immigrants choose not to assimilate. It's just not true. Making that assumption with no underlying facts is racist.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2007 10:21 AM

Prove that a large percentage of Spanish speaking immigrants choose not to assimilate. It's just not true. Making that assumption with no underlying facts is racist.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2007 10:21 AM

No, Alice that is exactly what happened to SWM and me. You are just too blinded by your own beliefs to see it. We both come from interracial families, feel legal immigration is fine, and feel sorry for all those other races and people standing in line legally. I who am a crazy Irish girl even said that the illegal Irish should have to go back and stand in line, so as far as I am concerned you and your anon posters don't have a leg to stand on and should be wiped from the blog for calling someone a racist for expressing an opinion. Good day madam and I hope that someone calls you a nasty name today.

You didn't respond to anything I said except to call me evil and a racist. You should be ashamed of yourself.


Posted by: | May 30, 2007 08:33 AM

scarry, I actually see quite clearly and coherently presented my opinion once, at 8:07, without hysteria and without wishing for bad things to happen to strangers. Get a clue-by-4. I called you neither "evil" nor "racist". I would hope you'd select the target of your nastiness a bit more carefully in the future. You, on the other hand, have been ranting for some time in multiple posts and are now wishing for someone to call me a nasty name and telling me I should be ashamed. I've re-read my post and concluded you are a few cards short of a deck.

You seem like a very unhappy and angry person, scarry. I hope you get counseling to deal with this tendency to indiscriminately vent at one target for the deeds of others.

Posted by: alice | May 30, 2007 10:48 AM

Alice,
Ignore Scarry. She is not too smart and is very impulsive. Arguing with her is like beating a dead horse. She will never get it. Best to leave her alone.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2007 10:53 AM

Do we really need to be so politically correct that we chose to wear blinders on our eyes? What kind of world are we leaving for our children?

Posted by: political refugee | May 30, 2007 08:36 AM

We don't need to be politically correct. We need to be correct. I hope to leave a world for my children where justice, fairness and economic rationality are considered as important as mindless, irrational hatred. I am not blind to the need for our farmers, our construction companies, and our restaurant industry to have a sufficient pool of labor. I also am not blind to the underlying racist attitudes of many who treat all Latinos as if they are in the US illegally, rather than limiting their condemnation to those persons who violate the law. Using terms like "complete amnesty" indicates only that you have not read the bill. There is much there which we could debate, but you'd have to actually read it and not spout what you might have found on this website or that. The 1986 bill created a huge problem. We now have the ability to constructively fix it.

Or, we can make nonsensical statements that a piece of proposed legislation "renders worthless those LEGAL immigrants who followed the rules to come here." If you will kindly identify the basis for your overdone rhetoric, I'll write my congressman and ask that the value for immigrants be set at an amount equal to the value of an AKC registered Beagle, $100,000, or whatever value you propose.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 30, 2007 1:11 PM

Alice whose quote were you quoting when you talked about evil and racism? That should give you a clue as to why she responded the way she did.

Of course the only way to say anything back to someone on this blog who defends their self is to say they are angry unhappy or stupid. Way to go, you have just joined the blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 30, 2007 1:50 PM

I was reading an article in Newsweek last night about the immigration reform issue, and interestingly enough, it cited that in the states that attract the most illegal immigration (Florida, California, Texas, Arizona, Illinois and I don't remember the others), that the unemployment rate is actually lower than the national average, which shows that illegal immigrants are not competing with Americans for jobs, but rather are working in jobs that Americans don't seem to want. In other words, our economy, whether we like to admit it or not, actually needs the services of these people who are working here illegally. But at the same time, we want to treat them as some kind of second class category of people who don't deserve fair compensation or treatment. My sense is that they are here. There are so many of them that we can't just deport them all. So the best thing we can do is find a way to legalize their status so that they can become more active and productive members of our society. We can't complain that they won't asssimilate while at the same time actively rejecting them.

And as a person who came here legally, I can honestly say that I have no problem with the idea of granting illegal immigrants some route to legalize their status. It takes absolutely nothing away from me.

Posted by: Emily | May 30, 2007 2:03 PM

Alice,

It was abundantly clear in your post that you were implying that scarry and single western mom were racist and evil. They were the only two posters on the blog who were called that yesterday, so instead of acting innocent, just admit that is what you were implying and be done with it. Scarry may be impulsive, but at least she is not a liar.

Posted by: Liar ,Liar | May 30, 2007 2:16 PM

to Liar, Liar,

I see there's another even more odd response. I don't see how guilt or innocence come into play here. The record's there to read, and I have no need to convince someone unbalanced that, in a manner of speaking, red is red.

It's rather contorted logic to conclude that I must be lying because you see implications in words that aren't there. I posted once. I said what I had to say, and it was not directed at any person in particular. It was about a statement scarry made. I haven't the slightest interest in being drawn into commenting on whether or not this person or that on this blog is racist.

and, scarry, next time you might as well use your name instead of hiding behind an alternative web identity.

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