Would You Support a Four Day School Week?

by Honolulu Mother

As explained in this Slate article, the idea would be to give kids who struggle one day a week for extra tutoring, while other kids have the option to come to school for enrichment activities, or even to stay home on Fridays.

Can a Four-Day School Week Actually Help Kids Who Are Struggling?

It is true that after our state’s notorious experiment with “Furlough Fridays” six years ago, test scores actually crept up slightly. However, I think that was attributable less to some benefit of cutting instruction time by 20%, and more to the schools having pushed the kids extra hard (and having cut out or cut back on art, music, and PE) during the remaining days.

What do you think of the four day school week idea?

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291 thoughts on “Would You Support a Four Day School Week?

  1. If you have two working parents, you would either “require” your children (too young to stay home alone) to go to school on the “5th” day or you would have to find child care of some sort. I realize that if this is the new norm, then providers of child care will fill the need, but at the start it sounds intimidating. And, I would be concerned that the 5th day would not be a full day and be a logistical nightmare.

    If you have a full-time stay at home parent, I think this sounds more appealing.

  2. sure, why not? More than one way to skin a cat. But my one constructive idea on this point would be to ask/suggest: Why Friday as the extra tutoring / enrichment day? How about Wednesday?

    Is it because a lot (anecdata, just my observation) of flexible-workers (generally moms) tend to take Friday as their out-of-office day? If the schools are going to be open to all for either remedial work or enrichment, wouldn’t they (the flex workers) send their kids to school anyway?

  3. I support more choice and competition in K-12 education (through choice, charters, vouchers, and tax credits), so that we could have a lot more options and run a lot more experiments. Who knows “what works” in general– or who are we say what works for each parent/child. For example, a lot of people would opt for M-F 8-5 for their kids, since the schooling doubles as baby-sitting for them.

  4. No, I don’t like it. I get the feeling that, particularly in the younger grades, the day is long enough already, and simply adding another 90 minutes to the other four days is not the same as adding 90 minutes of actual productive instruction time.

  5. Someone made a comment the other day that got me to thinking why I learned so much more in college, with 15 hours a week of class time, than I did in high school, with 30 hours. Having spent some time in my career doing training, I think I know why. Asking someone to teach every day, all day, for weeks at a time is just too much. Just like asking someone to sit in class all day, every day, is just too much.

    Maybe it would be best to break the free daycare aspect of public education out from the education aspect? If education works best with a college like schedule but we don’t want kids wandering the streets, maybe they can spend their free time in a convivial daycare like setting?

  6. As a SAHM of younger kids, I would strongly prefer shorter days with school on Fridays to longer days and enrichment Fridays.

    Our district now mandates full day kindergarten (9-3:30) with one 20 minute recess and 15 minute lunch, and that is just too much for most five year olds. About a fifth of parents redshirt, and the length of the school day is a major reason for it.

  7. I really don’t see the benefit here. It’s not to save $. If some kids are falling behind, it seems like a more sensible answer would be to move toward more ability-based grouping rather than four really long days homogenous grouping, followed by some kids getting tutored on Fridays while the others play kickball all day.

  8. My kids wasted so much time in elementary school, especially since the classes were heterogenously mixed and many kids didn’t speak English. They would have been much better off with a four day week, especially the introverts.

  9. Milo, ability grouping will not fly politically. There would be too many Anglo kids in one group and too many Spanish kids in another.

  10. Milo – according to the article, it’s an additional 25 minutes per day (how they worked that out, I don’t know… the math doesn’t add up). That’s doable, especially if they take care to give more 5 minute “wiggle” breaks (where the kids stand up and get the wiggles out).

    I like the idea – at least as a trial (maybe 2 years – one year pilot, second year to test best practices, option for optimal 3rd year). I’d like to see how they would handle organized sports (maybe those participating students go to sports practice during gym time and get gym credit?) – longer days means less ability for weekday afternoon/early evening practices. I do like the enrichment activities and the one-on-one time.

    I do wonder if, over the long term, this would lead to more productivity. I remember reading that office workers tended to be more productive with the 4 day work week, but I don’t know if that’s over the long term.

  11. Rhett – I had the same thought about college… I also realized that I could learn more faster in college because I had an education foundation. I would like to know if the foundation could be taught in the same manner but without any additional homework to “make up” for the ~15 hours between the college way of teaching and the HS way of teaching.

  12. but without any additional homework to “make up” for the ~15 hours

    If you cut instruction time by half but still needed the free daycare, they could do all their homework, band, sports, etc. during the current school day.

  13. And to Rhett’s longstanding point, this time applied to kids (and corollary to the college learning experience recounted above)…why do the kids have to show up, except for scheduled tests/quizzes/presentations they do? If they get 90s and above on all the required work, can’t they just show up for the tests?

  14. About half of Oregon school districts (mostly rural ones, representing about 10% of kids) already have four day school weeks. Friday is a day off, which saves on both time and money for bus transportation. Most of these schools already have low-but-improving high school graduation rates. For most of the kids who don’t graduate, more time in the classroom is not going to change that. They mostly have sufficient aptitude, they just aren’t academically inclined.

    One downside unmentioned in the article is that most standard curriculums set up their lessons for a 5 day week and not all teachers are optimal at shoehorning those neatly into a four day week.

    Our district considered going to a four day week a few years ago, but it’s a hassle for parents to find childcare on the fifth day, and the childcare is often/usually less good than going to school. Currently, our new superintendent claims to want to increase hours/days of school, which I’m not a fan of either. Until he finds a way to fund it, I don’t plan to get too worried. :)

  15. I’d support it if it works. All for trying different approaches.

    “For example, a lot of people would opt for M-F 8-5 for their kids, since the schooling doubles as baby-sitting for them.”

    Well, that’s right up there with “I stayed home because I want to raise my kids myself.” I would support longer school days *because I think my kids would do better and learn more.* The current ES schedule is 9-3:30, with one 20-minute recess a day and one gym/music/art/computer period a week (they alternate during the same period, i.e., Monday is gym, Tuesday is Music). It’s too much focused sitting still for too long without a break, too much left-brain academics back-to-back — and then even when they’re done, they still have to sit down for an hour-ish of homework (@30 mins in younger grades).

    I think longer days could be more effective, IF they use the extra time to (1) add back in recess and gym and wiggle time — at least once a morning and once an afternoon, for at least 30 mins at a time (even more for K-1 kids); (2) add back in a dedicated art/music period; and (3) have a dedicated study hall/homework time, supervised by the teachers, so kids would have a resource if they are confused by something, and so when they come home, they can enjoy being at home with their family.

    Really, if I were focusing on my own convenience and work schedule, my first target would be the ridiculous number of non-holiday closures and half-days — I think it averages out to one every @3 weeks over the school year, plus their tendency to do things like start and end school mid-week. And let’s not even get into their snow closure policy (we were closed yesterday, again, because it was icy overnight, even though by 7 it was 40+ and all the ice was completely melted by 10).

  16. add back in recess and gym and wiggle time — at least once a morning and once an afternoon, for at least 30 mins at a time (even more for K-1 kids)

    And an hour for lunch.

  17. Ridiculous. The last thing kids need is less time in school. I think this is just a way to shove costs off onto parents.

  18. My preference would be longer school days, 5 days a week, BUT with a full hour for lunch and a couple of recess breaks. And add some real music and art back in, rather than forcing elementary school kids to give up class time or lunch if they want to play in the orchestra or band (that is what our school does now – one practice is a pullout and the other is during lunch.

  19. Austin — My understanding is that this proposal is that no supplementary day care would be needed as kids not needing tutoring could still go to school on Fridays for the enrichment day. But if this becomes a thing, no doubt there will be districts doing it differently. During the Furlough Friday year we had to find day care for Fridays, but since it was a widespread issue and there were lots of teachers having unpaid days off on those days, there were a number of programs available from academic to enrichment to babysitting. If you had just one school doing it, obviously the market wouldn’t respond the same way.

  20. In college, you spent your ~15 hours in the classroom, but that did not include the other reading, research, paper writing, programming (whatever outside of the classroom time is appropriate for the class/major). The rule of thumb we were given in college is at least 1 hour outside of class for every hour in class, so you are already at ~30 hours per week. School day excluding lunch is roughly the same length or time.

    My kid’s experience was that some teachers had lots of wiggle time in their day while others did not. I think it was partly style and confidence. One first grade teacher started out with 3 recesses per day and slowly over the course of the year weaned them down to one. But, she would tell anyone who ever questioned why she had the kids outside that if they are wiggling in the classroom they aren’t learning. If they are outside just 10 minutes, they will settle down and we can learn twice as much as if I am trying to teach through the wiggles.

  21. The last thing kids need is less time in school.

    Based on what? I’m sure we can all agree that like going from six hours a day of school to 12 hours a day is going to double how much they learn.

  22. I agree with Milo – especially in the younger years, the last thing we need is a longer school day, except if you build in nap time!

  23. Someone asked if the French do this. Not when I was there. We went to school until 4 or 5 most days. We also had hour lunches. We did not have school on Wednesday but we did have school on Saturday.

  24. Germany is famous for short school days (we ended by lunchtime) but they also go 6 days a week, and the short school days only work because of an army of stay at home moms who oversee lengthy homework assignments. My memory was that school was very lecture oriented, and we did the actual work at home.German mothers were very involved. I know that hadn’t changed by the 90’s, when I was working at a university there for the summer – I discussed it a lot with my felllow researchers

  25. Mooshi,

    I’d say a hybrid system with instruction in the morning and homework and extracurricular after a leisurely lunch is certainly worth a try.

  26. The most interesting thing about this story was that Texas changed “the school year from the long-accepted norm of 180 days per calendar year to 75,600 minutes”, giving districts more flexibility. Presumably this flexibility would enable schools to make changes that reflect what families want. I think a 4-day week would be fine in some cases but not in others.

    Related: I recently read something about how a New Jersey school was using online instruction in lieu of snow days. I’m not sure how that would work for most schools, but certainly has possibilities.

  27. Rhett, I don’t think morning only instruction is enough, but along with longer days, I would like to see a more leisurely pace.

  28. CoC, the high school I went to now does online instruction in lieu of school days. They refer to as virtual days instead of snow days, and that means days don’t have to be made up later.

  29. Research has been showing that at risk kids do worse with online instruction than with in person instruction. It is a modality that favors privileged kids who have parents to fill in the gaps. It may make sense to do online classes for occassional snow days but I would not want to see its use increased any more. By the way, I have actually taught online courses, many times, so I have a pretty good sense of what you can do with them.

  30. Mooshi,

    But, to Fred’s point, if a kid happens to do better with an online calculus class than with his very marginal teacher – why shouldn’t he have that option*? Use the Cornell Notes, don’t use the Cornell Notes, go to class, go online, the midterm is in room 208 on Oct. 15 at 10 am and the final is Dec 20 at 10am.

    * with parental input of course.

  31. “The most interesting thing about this story was that Texas changed ‘the school year from the long-accepted norm of 180 days per calendar year to 75,600 minutes’”

    I think this is brilliant, btw. Our school system gets to count a half-day as full credit toward the 180 days. Which, of course, encourages many half-days, late openings, and early closings (and I remember school well enough to know that no one learns jack on those days). Last year, they even made up for extra snow days by adding a half-day the morning before spring break, after many families had already made travel plans for Easter, and the teachers were just going to show movies and have a party anyway. It’s ridiculous. Going to minutes or even hours of education would at least require some accountability.

  32. Rhett, if it were an *option*, fine. The danger is that it would encourage cash strapped schools to get rid of calculus teachers who may be perfectly good, because, after all, the kids can just do online calculus. That would be more likely to happen in poorer schools, and would add to the disadvantage for those kids.

  33. “The danger is that it would encourage cash strapped schools to get rid of calculus teachers who may be perfectly good, because, after all, the kids can just do online calculus. ”

    Even in my low income area, if the admin tried to get rid of a perfectly good math teacher, there would be torches and pitchforks at the school board meeting.

    Online classes may not be a good option, but they can be the best option available.

  34. I also find it interesting that the more successful charter schools use longer school days, often much longer school days.

  35. ” but along with longer days, I would like to see a more leisurely pace.”

    I really don’t understand this. My kids get on the bus at 7:55, and return home around 4:10.

    Why on Earth do they need to spend more time in school? Already, we’ve found that it’s best to limit their activities to one night per week, and we usually don’t even try to do homework on that night, although my oldest will now often read in the car.

    You want them getting home at 5 pm? Later?

  36. I’d want them to get all their homework and sports practice done at school, so that at home, we could eat dinner, hangout together, make cookies, walk the goats and lambs, watch tv, talk about stuff.

  37. Milo, my kids are home at 2:40. I would prefer they be in school until 4 at least, and not have to cram orchestra into lunch (or health – my oldest has no lunch period so he can cram his required health class in)

  38. Our ES goes from 8:00 to 2:30 so even tacking on an extra hour would be fine with me. I think it’s probably the structure of the day vs. the length that makes it hard for little kids (not enough recess and movement and too much time in seats). I think our ES has a pretty great schedule (gym twice, art and music once and french three days per week) and the only thing I would change would be tacking on an additional recess. We also live very close to school so we don’t get bus service so there’s no lengthy bus ride.

  39. Why on Earth do they need to spend more time in school?

    So they can finish their homework, do their evening activity, have a few breaks and a leisurely lunch and then when they get home at 5:30 they are done for the day.

  40. Milo – quick question – how long is the bus ride one way?

    I know students who would go to school from 8-2:30, but be on the bus at 6am and not get home until 4:30pm because it took 2 hours to get to school in the morning.

    To answer your question – to Fred’s point, if schools are baby sitters, then, yes, getting home when mom/dad do means no aftercare. Then family time = activity + homework (all since none done at aftercare) + family fun. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

    I agree – getting homework done + one activity is a non-starter. Something’s gotta give. I remember those days well.

  41. To Rhett and Mooshi’s points – if homework and extra instruction or activities done at school, then great. Let’s build all activities in there, like sports. That way when they get off the bus, NO ONE needs to eat and run.

  42. 5:30 is an extra 80 minutes. Your leisurely lunch brings that down to 50. A few breaks? Now we’re down to 30.

    You want them to squeeze homework and the evening activity into 30 minutes? They usually spend more than 30 minutes right now on homework alone.

    And the oft-stated desire on here for schools to handle “sports” or activities is not realistic when you compare it with the specialization that parents, including this group, expect for their kids’ activities. Schools are not going to add dance studios, travel-level sports teams, gymnastics gyms, Olympic-sized swimming pools, and equestrian centers. Give me a break.

  43. I’d like to ask some advice. My son’s charter her school has been growing by adding a grade each year. Last year they graduated 5-6 in their first graduating class. The college counselor and testing coordinator are fairly new at college entrance exams. I have been emailing since October trying to get the school to start the paperwork to request extended time on the SAT. Maybe every six weeks in the fall, and every 10 days or so since they went back in January. One response from one guy after 3 attempts was you want the other guy. Other guy responded to that mail from first guy and said I’ll call them and get back to you. Other than that, there have been no responses to my emails. College Board says apply through your school. There is fine print for if you cannot apply through your school, but it involves getting the form from the school.

    My past experience tells me being a pain in the neck about this will only cause problems for my son. Having sent 3 emails to the second guy since his “I’ll get back to you” asking for an update, I’m pretty sure no update is forthcoming. I have contacted the College Board to request the form from them. This way, I am unlikely to hear back prior to the school’s administration of the SAT in April. Would you have your student sit for it without accommodations, and then re-take it later with accommodations? Or just not participate that day? My petty side says don’t sit for it at school and test on a Saturday at another location (which will add significantly to the anxiety for this kid). He scored well-ish on the PSAT but didn’t finish either section, so the extended time will definitely make a difference in his score.

  44. MBT, Since you know which guy you need to talk to, can you make an appointment with him, go in with the paperwork and watch him fill it out?

  45. “Milo, ability grouping will not fly politically. There would be too many Anglo kids in one group and too many Spanish kids in another.”

    Have to say this is one of the most racist things I’ve seen on this blog. Also, “Spanish” is not a race.

  46. Cordelia, that is a good idea. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. Although I probably have to schedule that appointment by email, maybe he’ll do something on it to avoid having to meet with me. It is my understanding that considerably less documentation is required when the school is submitting the application.

  47. You want them to squeeze homework and the evening activity into 30 minutes?

    We’re moving to a college like schedule so class time is getting cut in half. There will be plenty of time.

  48. ATM I took that statement in the context of where Cordelia’s kids go to school, where this a large population of English language learners. I did not take it as being intended to apply to all districts.

  49. “We’re moving to a college like schedule so class time is getting cut in half. There will be plenty of time.”

    Just cut class time in half? For what reason?

  50. MBT – It’s racist where ever it is said. It’s basing an assessment of who will need extra help on the 5th day of school based on the language spoken at home and/or race. And it will not fly politically why? Because “Anglo” kids shouldn’t be with “Spanish” kids.

    Disgusted.

  51. “Our school system gets to count a half-day as full credit toward the 180 days. Which, of course, encourages many half-days, late openings, and early closings (and I remember school well enough to know that no one learns jack on those days).”

    I remember the days the in the auditorium when movie shown on the projector broke or was shown upside down. Tee hee.

  52. ATM, is there data that suggests Cordelia is incorrect? One of the reasons you would consider me racist along with Cordelia is that I observe that children who enter school not speaking English struggle more with reading/writing in English.

    That’s true whether the children’s first language is Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, whatever.

  53. ATM.

    If a kid doesn’t speak English, on the 5th day of school, they don’t speak English. They can’t access the material in the same way as a kid who only speaks English. It has nothing to do with race. It has to do with what language a kid speaks. There is a blue eyed, red headed kid in one of my kid’s grades. He doesn’t speak English. He can’t access the material taught in school, because he doesn’t speak English.

  54. “It’s basing an assessment of who will need extra help on the 5th day of school based on the language spoken at home and/or race.”

    It’s not the actual assessment, it’s a prediction based on the fact that weaker academic performance is correlated with demographic factors such as lower socioeconomic status and homes where Spanish is the primary language spoken.

  55. “ I am unlikely to hear back prior to the school’s administration of the SAT in April. “

    MBT — IIRC, the College Board takes up to 6 weeks or more to get a response back so you are cutting it close. It seems the school has dropped the ball on this, and I would expect them to handle your request now ASAP.

    Given how you describe the school, it’s very possible they lack the experience to craft an expert request for extra time. You may be able to do a better job than they, particularly if you research or enlist a professional to help. If there is no real need for your son to take the test in April, I would consider postponing until the next time.

  56. The moving to school minutes is causing a lot of mixed feelings in my area. On one hand, a 1/2 day no longer counts as a full day when you go to minutes, but some weird things like passing time between classes, recess for young ones, and lunch apparently do count in the minutes. Our ES/MS is extending their day by 10 minutes. I’m not exactly sure how you make use of 10 minutes in a day. Unknown yet, the impact on my DD#1’s HS or either of the 2 HS DD#2 has applied to.

    Texas is supposed to have 180 school days, but up to 5 teacher in-service days can count as school days. That will go away under the minutes calculation as I understand it.

    MBT – I would make an appointment with the counselor and just say, I know this is new for this school (but is it really new to him in that this is the first time he’s held this job), can we work through this together? Here’s the results of the research I did. My child really needs the accomodation to do well and to reflect well on the education he is receiving here at the school. I would also have a similar discussion with the principal about the process in general. Charter schools that want to grow need happy parents and good test scores.

  57. Just cut class time in half? For what reason?

    The same reason many of use claim that we learned a lot more with 15 hours a week in college than we did with 30 hours a week in high school. As I said; Having spent some time in my career doing training, I think I know why. Asking someone to teach every day, all day, for weeks at a time is just too much. Just like asking someone to sit in class all day, every day, is just too much.

    They are well past the point of diminishing returns in terms of but in seat time. It’s sort of like the the expression, used in the software industry, “9 women can’t make a baby in a month?” Simply increasing the number of hours worked per day, above some fairly low level, doesn’t get you any increase in productivity.

  58. “Schools are not going to add dance studios, travel-level sports teams, gymnastics gyms, Olympic-sized swimming pools, and equestrian centers. ”
    Since we work, this is not the sort of thing that gets figured into my kids weekdays in any case. I doubt many people are doing this level of activity on weeknights. In elementary school, my kids spent their afternoons in afterschool program, as many kids do, getting home at 6. In middle school and high school now, they rely on the school for activities but mainly do homework. I just would rather that this get built into the school day, so they aren’t cramming so much stuff into the day before 2:30. I think my kids, and many other somewhat less disciplined kids like mine, could benefit from supervised homework time.

  59. “I doubt many people are doing this level of activity on weeknights.”

    No you’re just being obtuse. Of course all those practices are happening on weeknights.

  60. Based on my observation of two kids and quite a few three day weekends – they lose a lot of momentum after a gap of three days. I would just have them go to school on the optional day. If not I would have to find child care.

  61. “They are well past the point of diminishing returns in terms of but in seat time. It’s sort of like the the expression, used in the software industry, “9 women can’t make a baby in a month?” Simply increasing the number of hours worked per day, above some fairly low level, doesn’t get you any increase in productivity.”

    Yet, somehow, we’re going to cut the amount of time spent in class each day by 50%, cut the number of academic days per week by 20%, simultaneously increase the total amount of time spent at school on the remaining four days, and increase productivity because all the undisciplined kids who can barely get their homework done at home working under the direct supervision of a parent are magically going to get it all done now in less time, working independently in a classroom at 5pm among 30 other kids, supervised by one teacher.

    Good grief.

  62. Milo, you’d be surprised at how many kids are doing a lot of activities on weeknights, even in the lower grades, especially in totebaggy areas. My kids started playing baseball and softball in third grade, just rec, and that was two days a week for practice, and maybe a weeknight game as well. Lots of kids take music lessons, dance lessons, etc.

  63. Do university students really spend that much less time in class? It is pretty typical for university students to take 16 to 18 credits – with labs that can mean up to 20 hours a week of instructional time. In NY, instructional time per day is 5 hours – so 25 hours per week.

    Also, the trend at many schools is to increased time in class, especially as the number of more at risk students grows. We do that by all kinds of subterfuges – required tutoring hours, required mentoring sessions, etc. Key intro courses, especially in math and science, are now usually 4 hours/week rather than 3, to get more time on task.

  64. Yet, somehow, we’re going to cut the amount of time spent in class each day by 50%, cut the number of academic days per week by 20%,

    No, still 5 days a week.

    increase productivity because all the undisciplined kids who can barely get their homework done at home working under the direct supervision of a parent are magically going to get it all done now in less time, working independently in a classroom at 5pm among 30 other kids, supervised by one teacher.

    No, do it like I did when I was doing training. I’d teach the concept for 2 hours. Then I’d say – “Ok, now each of you build one and then we’ll test them.” They’d do the “homework” and ask me over to answer any question. We’d test it and then we’d go to lunch.

  65. It is pretty typical for university students to take 16 to 18 credits

    If you want to graduate in 4 years you need 120 credits. That’s 15 credits a semester.

  66. “No, do it like I did when I was doing training. I’d teach the concept for 2 hours…”

    Great. That’s math. Now fit in reading, language arts, social studies, science, library, music, PE, art…

  67. MM – around here those things are definitely happening at night…especially in a lot of competitive sports…soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball, lacrosse (pre-7th grade since in NYS kids can’t play interscholastic sports until after 6th grade). One of the reasons for this is that the coaches, usually dads, are (1) volunteers and (2) have day jobs. Different for gymnastics and dance, and advanced/extracurricular music, since those places tend to be for-profit and have professional (paid) coaching/teaching, those activities can and are done right after school.

  68. If you want to graduate in 4 years you need 120 credits. That’s 15 credits a semester.

    And a decreasing number of students are graduating in four years because they are taking few credits.

  69. Fred, and a lot of the sports go later in the evenings because of facility availability. My kids played basketball through the Y (as rec as it gets) for a couple of years and they’d have practices from 7 to 8 because it there was so much competition for gym space. And hockey is even worse with the competition for ice time.

  70. Rhett:

    one data point…my middle kid’s major in a life science requires 132 credits, so he’s taking 16-17 credits/semester. Requiring >120 to graduate is pretty common now.

  71. Now fit in reading, language arts, social studies, science, library, music, PE, art…

    Science, social studies, reading? That seems like it would easy to do. Today we’re going to go over the War of the Roses, Chapter two of Tale of Two Cities, the acceleration due to gravity, etc. And then at the end of class hand out the homework task and let them finish it.

  72. Re: activities, around here most of them start around 6; it’s pretty rare for things to start before 4:30-5. So I don’t see how a longer school day messes with that, if part of that time is used to do the homework — you’re just doing the homework between @3-5 instead of later at home.

  73. “And then at the end of class hand out the homework task and let them finish it.”

    How is that any different than what they’re doing now? Where do you get this idea that you can teach F=ma and a=9.8 m/s^2 in half the amount of time?

  74. “So I don’t see how a longer school day messes with that, if part of that time is used to do the homework”

    Part of the time was not supposed to be spent doing homework. It was supposed to be absorbing the instruction time that will no longer occur on Friday.

  75. DD – believe me, I know. Around here we now have more sheets of ice than ~15yrs ago when my oldest was starting out. I remember well the 7am practices on Saturday or Sunday…and if you got there early, you got bonus ice. My guys never played on teams that were so intense that they held practices before school during the week (though some teams did). My youngest has never had a game or practice before 8am (tournaments excepted)

  76. Where do you get this idea that you can teach F=ma and a=9.8 m/s^2 in half the amount of time?

    That’s not how school works, is it? Rather that dedicate 2 hours to a concept because that’s how long it takes to teach. You have a 50 min class in which everyone gets settled, the teacher takes attendance, checks homework, 30 min of actual class time and everyone gathers up their stuff as they get ready to leave. If you had a two hour blocks you’d have more actual instruction time.

  77. Great. That’s math. Now fit in reading, language arts, social studies, science, library, music, PE, art…

    Oh, easy-peasy, Milo. Just make all the classes “interdisciplinary” so that they have to explain how to add 2+2 in different cultures, and then write a paragraph about it, then sing it, then do a PE activity demonstrating 2+2, etc.

    I seriously hated teaching “interdisciplinary” classes.

  78. Are elementary school kids really doing that level of competitive sports practice on weeknights? I thought this discussion was about elementary school.

  79. We are on an early schedule – so lots of activities take place after school usually starting at 4 pm. Demographics of an area come into play as well. We have quite a few families where one parent is home so they prefer to just do things right after school and then go home. The two parent working families are on a later schedule and tend to prefer weekends for activities.

  80. Milo,

    Also, let’s say I’m teaching an 8 hour training class and you’re in the class. Is your contention that it would take you exactly the same amount of time to grasp a concept at 9am vs. 5pm after I’ve been droning on for 8 hours and we’re both exhausted?

  81. Mooshi,

    I read that one of the teachers used to yell at a girl until she was so distraught she threw up. The part that pains me is as an adult you can be a big law associate of a Goldman analyst and cry in the bathroom after getting screamed at because you know you’ve made that choice and you can quit at any time. It’s quite another thing to be forced by law (or your parents) to be in that situation. I think they need to err on the side of not screaming at kids till they vomit.

  82. “Are elementary school kids really doing that level of competitive sports practice on weeknights?”

    Around here, if kids want to play on the high school volleyball team, they need to be on the travel team by 5th grade. The travel football teams start younger. I don’t think I am in a totebaggy area.

  83. Are elementary school kids really doing that level of competitive sports practice on weeknights? I thought this discussion was about elementary school.

    What level of practice are you referring to? A typical recreational level sport will have practice twice a week and maybe a game thrown in. Competitive/travel baseball and softball starts at 8U, and yes, kids are playing. That’s 3-4 days a week.

  84. “9am vs. 5pm after I’ve been droning on for 8 hours and we’re both exhausted?”

    That was my original point. You can’t just add Friday’s instruction to the end of the day Mon-Thurs.

  85. “I’m certainly not a fan of longer days with Friday off.”

    That WTF are we arguing about???

  86. Sky, I know you live in a neighboring state and i I expect in an good school UMC leafy burb not all that different from my grandchildren’s, but I am completely unfamiliar with the dynamic you report about kindergarten. Here there is a lottery for all day kindergarten and not all kids who want it get it. Cut off is Sept 1, but I assumed that was pretty much universal. Perhaps yours is Dec. 31, which would change the stakes for all day. (There is a small fee for the longer day, but it is an integrated program with a single teacher, not an afterschool.) Kindergarten is also very much in the old socializing mode. Little C’s Mom was in cancer treatment all year that year and she often wet the nap mat until April. The 30 year veteran teacher didn’t mind. My kids in the 80s had all day kindergarten and the cut off back then was March 1 of the following year, so one of them went at 4 1/2.

  87. Rhett, I would tend to agree with you – but the stories I hear from DH and his sibs about their Catholic elementary school are pretty similar. And when I read the comments attached to the article, many were making that point. Of course, lots of people were appalled too.

    The video was made at Success Academy, one of the big charter school chains in NYC. The sense I got from the article and from commenters familiar with the chain is that this kind of thing happens at their schools because they take a high pressure, “no excuses” approach.

    BTW, when I was in school in Germany, I saw kids reduced to tears pretty often. They always handed back our exams in grade order, from best to worst.

  88. “Cutting the amount of instruction time in half.”

    I think we’d have to observe classroom time, not just go off of how you covered software training to a group of professional adults. I’m not confident that we can just cut instruction time in half and expect better results.

    It sounds a little bit like promising to cut taxes, put the best businessmen in charge of trade deals, rebuild the military and knock ISIS out, and start winning again. :)

  89. @Mooshi – there was public handing out grades at my school too. Most teachers did it based on last name (roll call list) but one mean one went from worst to best. Her exams were very difficult, so about half the class was in danger of failing.

  90. Meme, there is a 12/31 cutoff here and our kindergarten is now in test-prep mode.

    If it were still play-based, fewer people would redshirt. Because the behavioral expectations are so high, the preschool told me to redshirt DS even though he is an early spring baby (so 5.5 on the first day of school) and reads at a second grade level now.

  91. Milo,

    I’d be interested to test it out. A lot of what goes on in education is the result of simple path dependence, not the result of any detailed study of what is most effective.

  92. And on school craziness….middle DD has an assignment to compare hiphop songs to Shakespeare, only, she doesn’t listen to hiphop…Apparently the teacher hasn’t given any instruction on hiphop. I am starting to think that teachers should be banned from the internet.

    One good thing about only going to school four days a week is that there would only be four days of nonsense. I do know that my kids’ reading skills, sleep habits, willingness to do chores, and general disposition markedly increase during summer vacation. I am actually quite in favor of less school days.

  93. Mooshi,

    I had teachers who made the class call out the score they got on test so the teacher could enter it into the gradebook.

  94. Meme, I think it may be school-system or town-dependent. Our K class seems quite a bit more academic than your GC’s class.

  95. “I had teachers who made the class call out the score they got on test so the teacher could enter it into the gradebook.”

    The process for submitting homework in third grade had the teacher sit at her desk and call out names from her grade book. If you had the homework completed, you would call out “got it,” and then place it on a pile on the counter. If you didn’t have it, you responded “don’t got it” [sic].

  96. my middle school teacher had us sit in grade order, with the seating chart updated every Monday. My high school math teacher discussed our ACT math results with us in front of the class, from lowest to highest. “Sir, you perform at math as you do in football. You’re all over the place and never clear on what you are supposed to be doing”

  97. Kids here – (1) music – at least one day a week private lesson, with practice daily thrown in; teachers suggest 30 minutes a day. (2) sports – start as young as age 3, but about 10% are heavily into sports by 3rd grade. That means 1-2 practices during the week and either a game or tournament on the weekend. Of the 10%, about half are on select teams – soccer, volleyball, softball or swimming for girls – where they practice 3-4 nights a week plus game/tournament on the weekend. A friend with a 4th grade softball player has 3 practices a week, plus 1-2 private lessons (pitching every week, batting every other week), and a tournament almost every weekend. They have one “winter” off season, but the kids still do all the practice only the tournaments are off the table. (3) dance – by late elementary 1-2 days a week for 90 minutes, plus performance practice, which is less frequent, but high intensity time wise.

    We rebelled and didn’t sign our kids up for anything that kept them out past 8 pm until late elementary. Some 1st-2nd grade little league teams were playing until 9:30 pm.

  98. On the kindergarten thing – while kids who have mainly been home may not be ready for the increased demands of “full day” kindergarten, there are a lot of kids out there who have been in truly full day care from babyhood on, and who are completely ready. My kids were totally ready – in fact, were all disappointed by kindergarten, which to them felt like half day. Our district made us do this crazy phase in thing too, where the kids went only for an hour the first day, then more hours the next, and so on. It was very puzzling to the kids who were used to longer preschool days. When my first kid went, my second was still in daycare, so we moms were all joking about the silliness of the phase in.

    So since a lot of kids have been in structured full day programs for years by the time they hit kindergarten, do we need two tracks?

  99. “If you want to graduate in 4 years you need 120 credits.”

    I needed more than that to graduate, independent of how many years. I think it was 128, which worked out to 16 credits per semester for 8 semesters.

  100. my middle school teacher had us sit in grade order, with the seating chart updated every Monday

    Makes life some much easier for the bullies. Who should we beat up today? Oh, of course, there he is.

  101. My kids do a once a week violin lesson on Wednesday evening. The teacher is so close, they can walk to it (though now that DS2 plays string bass, I have to cart him) and they are done by 7. When in elementary school, they also did a monthly book club at the library from 7 to 8 – DD still does it. In elementary school, the kids all did once a week afterschool clubs – but those were school based. And of course, starting in 9th, my DS1 did cross country, which was a definite time commitment. But the meets are always on weekends. But in elementary school, all sports were weekend only, and that is when they do Chinese school too.

    We just don’t have the time or energy for weeknight commitments. DH isn’t home until 7 and I am usually working that late too. And now that DS1 is in high school, he has a lot of homework. I don’t see how he could combine that with a lot of evening sports commitments.

  102. MBT, what grade is your DS?

    I suggest that he take a practice test, perhaps more than one, under normal testing conditions. If he does well enough on those practice tests, then just have him take the test without accommodations and see how he does.

    BTW, the college board website does not show an April testing date.

    Another suggestion is to look at the ACT instead of the SAT, especially if he’s a junior now. Lots of CO2017 kids are doing that because they don’t want to be guinea pigs for the new SAT. I’ve also heard that it will take a long time to get the scores for the new SAT.

  103. We require 126 credits, but most students take more. Why? A lot of students change major, or need math prereqs that don’t count, or minor in something. We have a lot of transfers too, who have to take lots of classes to catch up.

  104. How many credits per class? We counted classes, not credits – 4 per semester. The crazy gunners might take 5, but that usually only lasted 1 semester.

  105. @Sky – I don’t know if I would redshirt a spring birthday kid who is already reading at second grade level. There will be adjustment in the first couple of months as the kids adjust to the longer day but by Christmas break they settle in.

  106. Sky,

    If you redshirt your spring birthday kid, and it wasn’t the right decision, how hard would it be for him to skip a grade? If he is already reading at a second grade level, the first years of elementary school could be really unpleasant for him. I wish I had redshirted my oldest and had her skip second grade.

  107. “I had teachers who made the class call out the score they got on test so the teacher could enter it into the gradebook”

    Did any kids take advantage of the opportunity to improve their scores?

  108. My kids have been in daycare since they were babies but I still think kindergarten is different. There is a lot more moving around in daycare. More children around here do the private preschool/pre-K thing which is only 3 hours per day.

    We are red shirting DS next year because his birthday is so close to the cut off. He’d probably be fine but since everyone else does this I feel compelled to do it too as I don’t want him to be super young and short compared to the other boys.

  109. There are a number of organizations that are focusing on strategies to improve college completion, and one of the things they stress is making sure students take at least 15 credits a semester

  110. “We require 126 credits, but most students take more. Why?”

    Because they are interested in learning?

  111. I wonder if many lower-SES parents whose native tongue is something other than English could provide as much help with the Shakespeare/hip-hop homework assignment as Cordelia can? IMO, the schools do more to widen achievement gaps than to close them, and one glaring example is operating under the assumption that parents will play a big role in helping with assignments.

  112. My oldest started K at 4 2/3 . It’s always been a balance between intellectual readiness and maturity; there’s no right answer for a late-born but smart kid.

    But if you’re saying your son would be starting K at 6.5 years old if you redshirt him, that seems like it would be more problematic than starting at 5.5, especially if the official cut-off date would produce a K class with an average age of 5.1 when school starts.

  113. I agree with AMT that the comment came across as pretty racist, and some of the response comments, particularly WCE’s, were just as bad. AMT was right to call it out, I’m a little disappointed that the immediate response here was defensiveness rather than some thoughtfulness given to why it communicated a racist tone.

  114. With my oldest, I actually wish he could have skipped kindergarten. It was a total waste of his time.

  115. ” We counted classes, not credits – 4 per semester. The crazy gunners might take 5, but that usually only lasted 1 semester.”

    Credits correlated to hours of lecture. A 3 credit class had a nominal 3 hours/week of lecture (actually 2.5 hours; MWF classes were 50 minutes, and TTh classes were 75 minutes, to allow time to walk to the next class).

    Labs were different– typically a once/week, 3 hour lab was 1 credit.

    Most classes were 3 credits. 12 credits was the minimum load to be considered full time, and that was IMO a slacker load, and would not facilitate graduating in 5 years. 5 classes was pretty common. When I was an underclassman, I took at least 17 credits, so that was 5 or 6 meat classes plus labs and seminars (typically once/week, 1 credit).

    Tuition was flat for full-time students regardless of how many classes, so maximizing value was one reason for taking a lot of classes. We’ve discussed here how it may not make sense to work part time while a full time student because of this.

  116. “But if you’re saying your son would be starting K at 6.5 years old”

    I thought she was saying her kid would start preschool at 6.5, which IMO is too old.

  117. If Spanish is not a race, then what is it, in the context of describing people whose ancestry traces to Spain? Does Spanish not being a race also then mean than, e.g., Chinese, Indian, Italian, etc., are also not races?

    I can see that “Spanish is not a race” makes sense if “Spanish” is strictly a language, but I don’t think it is strictly a language. I’m pretty sure it is a nationality, but not so sure about if it is also a race.

    I suppose this is a question about semantics and language.

  118. Finn, my son is a junior, and it is being administered at his school on a weekday in April. He has not done a practice test, so I am using the PSAT as a guide. He scored well on reading with 8 unfinished questions and middling on math with something like 15 unfinished. I do think the extended time will improve his score enough to make a difference on applications.

  119. I feel like people are looking for racism where it doesn’t exist and would rather claim “racism” than have a statistically based discussion of why perceptions like mine exist. If people would look for an explanation other than “racism” for why certain races are overrepresented in certain classes, they might find it. I’d start by looking at age of parents at birth and percentage of single parent families.

    One current block of limited English students locally is Arabic, because their parents took research assistantships to try to avoid the conflicts in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, etc. These kids are Caucasian and they don’t speak English. The school has hired at least one Arabic ESL teacher, I heard, but that is not sufficient for the influx.

  120. The kindergarten schedule here is (roughly):
    9:00-9:15 Morning meeting, pledge and attendance
    9:15-10:15 Reading (in your seat, groups with teacher for ~ 15 minutes each)
    10:15-10:30 Snack and a worksheet
    10:30-11:00 special (gym, art, music, computer)
    11:00-12:00 Math
    12:00-12:20 Recess
    12:20-12:35 Lunch
    12:45-1:45 Writing
    1:45- 3:20 Science/Social Studies/Health
    3:20-3:30 Pack up

    The day cares are also long days, but when DD went the schedule had much more movement and free play, and more frequent changes of activity. Most five year olds do not enjoy writing for an hour.

    If I send DS this year, he will start at 5.5, if I wait, 6.5. 5.5 would be about average for the entering boys, because most of the redshirted kids are boys with birthdays from September 1 – December 31 but not all boys born then are redshirted. 6.5 would likely make him the oldest child in the class.

    My concern is that if he is reading at second grade level now, he may read at third grade level by 6.5. Our district never skips; I tried :)

  121. I thought the distinction between Anglo and Spanish in California went back to its history as first a Hispanophone Spanish and then an Anglophone American territory? I read those terms as shortcuts for language spoken.

  122. Sky – second kid is one of the oldest due to fall birthday just after the cut off. I wanted to send her the year earlier but the school wouldn’t budge on the cut off. They have different reading groups so at least that has helped with being on the older end and having a high reading level. Having two kids on either side of the cut off has caused me to do a lot of extra thinking.

  123. “How is it racist? Nobody’s explained that.”

    I was wondering the same thing. I don’t believe that people who support proficiency grouping are necessarily racist. But from what I can tell, that is the presumption made here. I agree with WCE at 2:26.

  124. So since a lot of kids have been in structured full day programs for years by the time they hit kindergarten, do we need two tracks?

    Census statistics report that only about 25% of preschool-age kids are in organized day care settings. Going to school all day every day is a new thing for many little ones. IMO it was a huge mistake to turn kindergarten into 1st grade. Totebag kids may well be reading and writing and doing math problems by the time they are 5 — would it kill them to spend a year playing and learning social skills (and maybe a foreign language before it’s too late) instead of doing worksheets and having homework? Kids who love reading will keep on reading. They don’t need to do it at school. Kids (many boys) who are not ready for reading and especially writing at age 5 would have some time to catch up to the others. I just don’t understand the drive to start serious academics at such young ages. No wonder some kids are burnt out by the time they are seniors.

  125. MBT: Here are a few suggestions. 1) As others have advised, make an appointment, 2) Start moving up the food chain to people more senior and start copying them on e-mails/ meeting them/ getting them involved, 3) I really, really hate to say this, but….(cringing)…have your DH push this through. An angry dad is sometimes more effective in cutting through BS than an angry mom.

  126. From my viewpoint, it was the appearance that use in the comment of “Spanish kids” was shorthand for “the dumb kids.”

    To be clear: I’m not arguing with any particular statistics on achievement and links to language spoken at home. I’m specifically referring to the casual use of the term in the comment.

    I don’t speak for AMT here, clearly. But when I was scrolling through the comments as a whole, that one really stopped me in my tracks, even before I saw her comment.

  127. I thought what Cordelia meant was that if you take children who speak English at home and children who speak Spanish at home, and test them all in English, then the children who speak English at home are going to score higher on the test and will tend to fill the higher level classes even if there is no real difference in the abilities of each group.

    If you test them all in Spanish, you would get the opposite result.

    Have any major school districts tried testing kids for placement in their native language instead of English?

    Our schools used to do that for older English Language Learners, and would put them in the advanced English-language math or science classes with a tutor or translator if appropriate. It’s much harder to do in the schools with a lot of different languages because of the number of support staff required. I don’t know what our schools do now.

  128. “And on school craziness….middle DD has an assignment to compare hiphop songs to Shakespeare, only, she doesn’t listen to hiphop…Apparently the teacher hasn’t given any instruction on hiphop. I am starting to think that teachers should be banned from the internet.”

    One of DS2’s assignments last year (6th grade) was to summarize the plot of a book in a “tweet format” i.e. 140 characters.

  129. Oh, well then, if that’s what she MEANT, it surely doesn’t matter how it’s expressed, then. Nothing is racist if you don’t MEAN it to be, right?

    sarcasm font

  130. Also don’t understand why it’s racist to observe that academic achievement is correlated to SES, which is in turn correlated to race and fluency in English. That’s why colleges give blacks and Hispanics (who may be of any race) an admissions boost. And it’s also part of the reason that many public school systems abandoned ability grouping. Forcing teachers to work with heterogenous ability classes prevents them from truly meeting the needs of any group except the absolute average.
    When you sign your kids up for swim lessons, they are sorted into groups by their abilities. The kids who can already swim across the pool aren’t in the same group with the ones who are still afraid to put their heads under the water. Why do schools insist on taking that approach with reading and writing, which are far more vital skills?

  131. Scarlett said “would it kill them to spend a year playing and learning social skills (and maybe a foreign language before it’s too late) instead of doing worksheets and having homework? ”

    Yes, with mine it would have. They had already done social skills up the wazoo, and years of play based learning. In fact, for my oldest, our kindergarten was still too play-based (they had mostly free play after lunch) and he spent most of that year and the next zoning out, totally bored. I have long placed some (not all) of the blame for his later issues on the anti-skills he learned in kindergarten and first grade. For my second, it would have been bad too. Kindergarten was the year when he transitioned from being severely delayed to being completely on track. Things had gotten a little more structured in his year, and he just ate it up. For my third, who was and still is severely ADHD, it gave us a chance to finally see her issues, and I think the structure was good for her. She really didn’t need another year of play.

  132. Lark, Cordelia recently changed her name, so that may have thrown you. She lives in a rural agricultural part of CA where most of the kids in the school are from Spanish-speaking immigrant families with limited English proficiency and parents whose educations ended early by American standards. I can see that reading her comment without having that background information would make a difference.

  133. “I’m specifically referring to the casual use of the term in the comment.”

    The casual use of what term? “Spanish”?

    It’s not the “n” word.

  134. One of my biggest issues with our school district, at least in the years my two oldest went through, was that the elementary school was supposed to be fun, and low pressure, and creative, and project based. And then bam! they hit middle school and suddenly everything is high stakes and high pressure, and the kids are expected to be totally responsible for multiple streams of complex assignments. There was a real disconnect. I think that as they have made our elementary school more serious and at least somewhat more demanding, my DD will have a better chance at being ready for the high stakes middle school years. But for my two oldest, it seemed like they just let them float for years, which was not good for getting them ready, work habit wise, for middle school. And I see other kids who could have benefited from more academic preparation in elementary school.

  135. That’s why colleges give blacks and Hispanics (who may be of any race) an admissions boost.

    You’re being disingenuous if you don’t acknowledge that whites are also getting a boost at the expense of Asians.

  136. From my viewpoint, it was the appearance that use in the comment of “Spanish kids” was shorthand for “the dumb kids.”

    I didn’t get that all. I read it as “kids whose first language is Spanish”.

  137. I drove myself crazy trying to decide whether to redshirt my oldest. He was born on the cutoff and was supposed to be almost 3 months after it. His preschool teacher told me to redshirt him because everyone does and he “seemed immature.” Of course he did. His class was filled with girls (who are generally more mature) and boys who were for whatever reason almost a year older than he was. But he is bright and curious and I thought it would be a disservice to him to hold him back. His fine and gross motor skills are a bit behind. His school assured me that if it was a disaster we could move him to the junior k or repeat k. He has done well this year and I am pleased. I now am firmly on the side that 7 year olds shouldn’t be in K unless there are developmental delays, and even then, school with an IEP is probably better than another year of preschool.

  138. I just don’t understand the drive to start serious academics at such young ages.

    Correlation causation confusion? Academically inclined kid with an IQ of 150 learns to read at 4 and goes on to CalTech and a job at JPL. Ah, well, if we take Sam with an IQ of 98 and Amy Chua him into reading at 4 he’ll go on to CalTech and JPL as well.

  139. “One might think she was using it as a euphemism for Mestizo.”

    First I’ve heard this term. Is that supposed to be bad?

    This whole sub-thread reminds me of Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock when a woman says to him “I’m Puerto Rican,” and he responds, “OK, but what am *I* supposed to call you. I can’t say Puerto Rican, can I?”

  140. high stakes middle school years

    What are the stakes that are so high? If they don’t do well then they won’t get on the calculus track, which dooms them to directional state U, resulting in a life working in middle management?

  141. @Sky — I have been on the wrong side both ways. DD’s first school put her from K directly into 2nd grade because of her academic performance, but her ADHD/activity level really meant she stood out (in a bad way) to the 2nd grade teacher, who didn’t think she should have been advanced in the first place. Very, very bad scene, resulted in our switching schools.

    OTOH, DS was doing K-level stuff at 4 yrs and 10 months (when I would have preferred him to start K), but he was forced to wait a year thanks to the school cutoffs; the following year, he was well beyond K-level “work.” At the first P-T conference, I received some complaints about his behavior, which the teacher said surprised her, because he’d been in FT daycare/preschool forever. It surprised me, too, because he’s always been my mellow kid. Then I came to class one day and figured out why: she had sat him in the back of the class (because he was the tallest), and then spending the entire class working on basic things like sounding out the word “at.” Sorry, but no reasonably bright kid is going to sit still and behave when he’s bored shitless for hours at a time.

    Personally, if your kid is reasonably well-behaved for his age (i.e., not ADHD), then I would go with the age cutoffs

  142. Mooshi, I’m not opposed to tougher academic standards by any stretch :)

    I do think that a class that is supposed to be made up of children who turn five in the calendar year – in other words, with 1/3 of them still four in September – ought to have 2 or 3 recesses in a full day program and at least 20 minutes for lunch.

    By second grade they can manage on a half hour of recess and a 20 minute lunch, IMO.

  143. TIL that mestizo is racist. I can’t keep up with this stuff.

    And I agree with MM about the disconnect between ES & MS. Which is one reason I support proficiency grouping in ES.

  144. Is that supposed to be bad?

    Spanish:

    Mesizo/Native:

    It’s not bad. But, one might think Cordelia didn’t have Vicente Fox type Mexicans in mind.

  145. DS is a very peculiar child: he taught himself to read before his 24 month well child visit.

    We can’t figure out if his behavioral issues are tied to boredom or general cussedness.

  146. Why would “one” think that?

    Because those of pure Spanish ancestry constitute the Mexican elite and as a result they tend not to be employed as farm labor in the Central Valley.

  147. Well, Sky, I don’t think any kid, including high school kids, should have a 20 minute lunch. I think there is a happy medium between forcing all kids into a play based year of kindergarten even if ready for more, and a kindergarten with mo recess and a 20 minute lunch. Kindergarten in our district, even though full day, was still too play based for my oldest. and laurafrombaltimore’s quote on being bored shitless pretty much described what I saw going on too.

  148. “We can’t figure out if his behavioral issues are tied to boredom or general cussedness.”

    The two are not mutually exclusive. But self-taught reader at 2 years? I’m gonna go with boredom.

    Why not start from the assumption that it is boredom and treat that symptom? If you’re wrong, you’ve got a lifetime to figure out orneriness.

  149. Why do schools insist on taking that approach with reading and writing, which are far more vital skills?

    Because apparently sorting kids by ability, like they did In My Day, is just a covert way of being racist.

  150. Sky, so you wait to start him in K until he’s a year older than the rest of the class and reading at a 4th grade level, and then what? Expect him to sit through the phonics and alphabet instruction and the ‘story’ math about five birds sitting in a tree and then two fly away?

    This sounds like an occasion for ignoring the preschool recommendation. Especially if they used the phrase “gift of time.”

  151. Everything should be exactly the way it was InMyDay. Morning kindergarten for the smaller, less mature kids; afternoon kindergarten for the older, bigger kids. If they’re bored playing games, then they’re playing the wrong games. Get a group together to do the Sunday NY Times crossword. The slower kids can do the Jumble. This is the Totebag, after all.

  152. I said ” “Milo, ability grouping will not fly politically. There would be too many Anglo kids in one group and too many Spanish kids in another.””

    The complete statement should have been Milo, ability grouping will not fly politically. There would be too many Anglo kids in one group and too many Spanish speaking kids in another.” The Spanish speaking kids will not learn English because they will not have enough English speaking kids to practice with and they won’t practice at home because nobody at home speaks English. Their parents will be very upset because not learning English dooms their kids to low wage/low skilled jobs”

    I said nothing about Spanish kids being dumb
    I said nothing about not wanting the Anglo and Spanish kids together
    Still not certain what Metizo is
    Don’t understand why it is racist to assume that if it takes X hours to learn the curriculum it takes X+Y hours to learn the curriculum and another language.

  153. So, um. You guys. There HAS been racism in the way schools divide the kids. My Sister The Special Ed Teacher could point you to research that shows that back in the 60s the “learning disabled” kids were all white whereas the “educably mentally retarded” kids were all black, despite identical test scores. It’s not crazy-ass liberal shit to keep an eye on this stuff.

  154. “Morning kindergarten for the smaller, less mature kids; afternoon kindergarten for the older, bigger kids.”

    Wait! This was a thing? I went to morning kindergarten! Nobody ever told me.

    Speaking of racist…

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/02/bernie-sanders-african-americans-cornel-west-hillary-clinton-213627

    To summarize a couple of his points, blacks, who, by definition, are inherently concerned about welfare programs and minimizing their time spent incarcerated, should not like Hillary Clinton.

    Still, I’m a big believer in the old “the enemy of your enemy…” truism. Any critic of Hillary is a friend of mine.

  155. “Everything should be exactly the way it was InMyDay. Morning kindergarten for the smaller, less mature kids; afternoon kindergarten for the older, bigger kids.”

    Rocky – so that’s why I was and ‘afternooner’. I had a January b’day and was big for my age. Thanks for clarifying!

  156. “Everything should be exactly the way it was InMyDay. Morning kindergarten for the smaller, less mature kids; afternoon kindergarten for the older, bigger kids.”

    Everyone at my school went to morning kindergarten….At my kid’s school, afternoon kindergarten was for kids whose parents didn’t figure out how to get them into morning kindergarten.

  157. I told the preschool that if I send him to kindergarten this year and he needs to repeat it, then I can send him to private school and do that (our district does not retain).

    If I send him a year later and it is too easy, we cannot fix it because neither the public nor private schools here allow skipping grades.

    Planning to talk to the elementary school before registering him, although I’m not sure how much to say about the early reading – I don’t want to be that mom.

  158. MM,
    A well-designed non-“academic” kindergarten program with an excellent teacher would not be boring. Five-year olds can learn a lot without forcing them into a first-grade academic curriculum. Back In The Day, that’s what we all did.

    Rhett,
    One of my best friends from high school did not go to kindergarten at all, and actually DID end up getting a PhD in physics from CalTech and working at the JPL. I think of her every time parents fret about the lack of challenge in kindergarten classes. There is plenty of time after age 6 to focus on phonics and math facts. The kids can still get onto the calculus track. They won’t be behind. Most of them can’t even tie their own shoes yet; it’s OK if they aren’t reading yet either.

  159. There would be too many Anglo kids in one group and too many Spanish speaking kids in another.

    Anglo: a white American of non-Hispanic descent, as distinguished especially from an American of Mexican or Spanish descent.

    You meant too many native English speakers in one group and too many native Spanish speakers in another.

  160. Sky, my kids were academically ready for kindergarten but not socially/behaviorally ready for full-day. We wound up being the last year of public half-day kindergarten (which worked fine), but otherwise I likely would have sent the twins to a private half-day kindergarten, then into first grade in public school.

  161. You meant too many native English speakers in one group and too many native Spanish speakers in another.

    YES, although as a native speaking I probably could have been clearer.

  162. native speaking

    Native English speaker…

    Ah heck I give up….did I mention I hate English classes in all forms.

  163. Sky, my middlest was academically ready for first grade, socially/behaviorly/physically ready for preK when she was 5. We sent her to kindergarten. She hated it, teacher wasn’t too fond of her, many classmates, not a fan of her. At one point, when they were practicing counting to 100 yet again, she decided to count really loudly so the teacher would figure that everyone knew how to count to 100 and they could do something else. She eventually skipped a grade, and found social and academic peers. Actually she has the closest friend base of all three.

    How good is your son at sitting quietly when bored?

  164. @Sky: telling your kid’s teachers that he taught himself to read at 24 months does not make you “that mom.” Do what’s best for your kid. Worry about what other people think about it later.

    Of course, IME, “that mom” never actually worries that she is “that mom,” so you don’t qualify anyway.

    ITA with Scarlett on the over-emphasis on academics early on (not just on developing X skill by Y date, but the “sit at the desk for long hours doing worksheet” method for attempting to develop those skills).

  165. I think you guys are conflating “academic” with “worksheets”. You can have an academically challenging kindergarten without worksheets. But simple repeating another year of play based pre-K is not that. My son had already done the darn apple seed counting project 3 times before he came to kindergarten, and then they did it AGAIN!!

    I am a huge fan of Montessori (my DD did Montessori daycare) because it offers a non worksheet oriented path into academics. I considered moving my oldest to a full Montessori program, but the only ones in our area that go to middle school cost about 50K a year.

  166. *cough* ALSO, since we’re being politically correct, let’s go whole hog and acknowledge that we’re not supposed to say “native speaker”, we’re supposed to say “fluent”. Those who are bilingual or who speak a different language at home can still be fluent in English, and those who speak English at home can still have language difficulties.

    I don’t make the rules, I just report (and occasionally enforce ) them.

  167. You can have an academically challenging kindergarten

    Wasn’t that traditionally known as first grade?

  168. “we’re not supposed to say “native speaker”

    And people wonder why the seeds of sociopolitical discontent that Donald Trump has sown have found such purchase.

  169. Wasn’t that traditionally known as first grade?

    Yup. My experience is that kindergarten has become what first grade used to be, which is why boys are generally not able to handle it at 4.5 or the younger side of 5, so parents redshirt them.

  170. “Because being literally correct is SO ONEROUS”

    Well, look how even this group could not get through a discussion about elementary school grouping without people screaming “racist!”

  171. Nah. It is mostly because people can be jerks. Everyone I know in real life who plans on voting for him is a total jerk. You can’t honestly listen to him and think he is the best candidate if you aren’t a jerk.

  172. “Everything should be exactly the way it was InMyDay. Morning kindergarten for the smaller, less mature kids; afternoon kindergarten for the older, bigger kids.”

    I’m pretty close to your age, but it wasn’t like that at my school. All the kindergartners were there all day.

    I think that there was some segregation by age. There were multiple K classes, so I think the oldest ones were mostly in one class, youngest in another, etc. We also had homogeneous grouping, so there was some sorting over the first couple years after K as some bright younger kids moved up, and not so bright older kids moved down, as where they were academically became more about native intelligence and less about age.

    There were also immigrant kids who moved up as their command of English improved.

  173. Maybe you should pay attention to their reasons instead of mocking them, Milo.

  174. “Forcing teachers to work with heterogenous ability classes prevents them from truly meeting the needs of any group except the absolute average.”

    I disagree. IMO, heterogeneous grouping also does a disservice to the average kids, who in heterogeneous grouping have to wait for the kids in danger of being left behind, instead of being able to proceed at an average pace.

  175. “Maybe you should pay attention to their reasons instead of mocking them, Milo.”

    Who, ATM and Lark?

    People asked for explanation, and there was some discussion.

    Cat – I’ve been very surprised by some people who fully support him, and they’re not jerks or combative people in the least.

  176. Heterogeneous grouping does a disservice to all kids and the teachers. I’m amazed that there are schools that still do it.

  177. I think the school/racism issue is what some of my friends would consider a micro-aggression. Seemingly not a big deal but often the result of imprecise language/assumptions/not understanding how a minority that is affected might interpret what was said. And something we all do.

  178. So if the original comment had been, “The schools can’t segregate by ability, because many of the students in the slower track will be less fluent in English, and some will protest that that reflects instutionalized racism”, could we have avoided this fight? OMG OMG it takes more words, but think of the savings in argumentative posts and bad feelings. And I’m sure I can come up with some slurs about the military that are statistically true and yet obnoxious and offensive. Want me to try? No.

  179. “Heterogeneous grouping does a disservice to all kids and the teachers.”

    Actually, Cordelia made the only valid point I know of in favor of hetergeneous grouping, that the non-English speakers can learn English better and more quickly if they’re grouped with English speakers (either fluent or native speakers or both).

    But I would think that some English speakers end up getting held back waiting for the non-English speakers to catch up. I’m thinking that if you’re going to use that rationale, and you’re in a two-language situation, it should work both ways, i.e., the English speaking kids should learn Spanish from the Spanish speaking kids.

  180. Rocky – Sure, *we* can all do that, because none of us got less than a 700 on SAT verbal. But surely you could understand how some people who can’t be so eloquent might feel like they’re always being corrected, even when they’re perfectly well-intentioned, using a term like “native speaker,” for example.

    Trump, and, in fact Sanders, to a degree, are popular because what people characterize as “authenticity” is really a sense that they make it OK to simply say what you mean. They don’t come across as scripted and focus group-tested.

  181. “Heterogeneous grouping does a disservice to all kids and the teachers. I’m amazed that there are schools that still do it.”

    Even better: our ES went *back* to it, including getting rid of G&T before MS. They had a legit problem with the GT program: there was a firm on-ramp entering 2nd grade, and kids who developed later had an almost impossible time getting into the program. Which, of course, disproportionately excluded the kids from a disadvantaged background, who didn’t have the preschool opportunities, parental support at home, etc. Even DD’s friend, who was adopted from Russia as a toddler, started out in “average” classes in 2nd grade because of the language and some developmental issues; she ultimately worked her way up to “honors” and then to GT by late MS, but because she had missed the early acceleration in math, she could never get onto the GT/AP math track.

    I think fish-or-cut-bait by the age of 7 is a little ridiculous, and I’m extremely glad they did away with that. OTOH, their chosen cure brings the baby and the bathwater to mind. Luckily, I only have one kid and 1.5 years left, and he’s my easy/nice/cute one whom all the teachers love, so he’ll do fine.

  182. “it is being administered at his school on a weekday in April. He has not done a practice test, so I am using the PSAT as a guide. He scored well on reading with 8 unfinished questions and middling on math with something like 15 unfinished.”

    I was not aware of weekday administration of the SAT.

    Is your DS planning to take it cold???? I strongly recommend against that, especially since you obviously want him to do well, or you wouldn’t be worried about extra time. At the absolute minimum, I would suggest a series of practice tests– take the test under testing conditions (e.g., timed at whatever time you think he will get), grade and score, go over results, lather, rinse, repeat. I would also suggest the Khan Academy prep class and/or some prep book, or things like the question of the day app.

    I can’t recommend any specific prep material, since DS and I planned so that he would get his testing out of the way before the switch to the new SAT.

    And if you want him to score well, he should absolutely make sure to answer every question. The new SAT penalizes unanswered questions.

  183. If you kids don’t stop fighting back there I’m going to pull this car over until next January.

  184. Ability based tracking is not inherently racist. But the assumption implying that the higher track classes will be filled with “anglo” kids and not “spanish” kids does imply racism. This is no different than my neighbor being surprised by my kid (white) being placed in the highest math track in middle school. Yes he is the only white kid in a class full of Chinese and Indian kids.

  185. FWIW, I agree with RMS on this one. The initial comment was a bit off-putting to me as well at a minimum. And no, “Spanish” is not really a preferred or polite term for people of Hispanic heritage who live in North America. It’s also not shorthand for anyone who doesn’t speak English. It’s not the “N” word, but it doesn’t have to be THAT BAD to be off-putting and at least a little racist or insensitive. Maybe it is more of a “micro-aggression” as Cat says, but I feel the need to defend those who were put off by it. It’s not overly sensitive PC crazy talk to say so.

    As far as the discussion goes, how many of your ES kids really spend all their time at school butt in seats listening to a teacher lecture to them or quietly reading? I’m reading Rhett’s proposal, and I don’t really think the ES’s that I know are much like corporate training anyway. There is project work, there are specials, there is movement within and between classrooms, etc. And with specials – it includes science and engineering where they are doing experiments and project work that may involve some kind of movement and activity to break up the day. Or language where dancing/singing is incorporated into lessons. It’s not like in A Christmas Story where they sit at rows of desks from 8:30-3:30 listening to the teacher from Peanuts. When we’ve toured local public schools, they were all this way.

  186. “Which, of course, disproportionately excluded the kids from a disadvantaged background”

    I’m guessing it also disproportionately excludes younger kids, e.g. those born just before the cutoff. I’m also guessing some parents of those kids will redshirt them, with this being one factor in that decision.

  187. “Yes he is the only white kid in a class full of Chinese and Indian kids.”

    No Korean kids??

  188. “Also don’t understand why it’s racist to observe that academic achievement is correlated to SES, which is in turn correlated to race and fluency in English. That’s why colleges give blacks and Hispanics (who may be of any race) an admissions boost. ”

    I thought the admissions boost was to create diversity on campus, so that the non-URM students would be exposed to the URM. At least that’s what is being said in the Fisher case.

  189. On getting fluent in a language….in the home country, English medium schools forbade students from speaking languages other than English while at school. You had to talk to your friends and teachers in English. It was a painful adjustment for quite a few kids in the early years as they had to leave their mother tongue at home and make the switch to English at school. Even today, some of my friends will insert whole phrases in their mother tongue if it conveys meaning better and end will “you know what I mean” in English.

  190. “I am a huge fan of Montessori (my DD did Montessori daycare) because it offers a non worksheet oriented path into academics.”

    I am also a fan, not just because of the non-worksheet activities, but that it allowed kids to proceed and their own paces.

  191. Anonymous said “Ability based tracking is not inherently racist. But the assumption implying that the higher track classes will be filled with “anglo” kids and not “spanish” kids does imply racism. ”

    As does the assumption, sprinkled through the posts above, that boys can’t handle a higher level of kindergarten, or are not ready to read. Drives me nuts. Consider what it would sound like if we substituted “girls” and “math”

  192. 26 kids in class. 15 Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi kids (not sure about exact country or origin for couple of kids). 10 kids – China/Hong Kong/Taiwan and my kid. No idea on whether these kids are 1st generation or 2nd generation. All kids speak perfectly good English. Many parents can barely communicate in English.

  193. It’s interesting to read that article about the NY city gifted program. Atlanta’s program is only one day per school week so kids are mixed in regular classes and then the gifted kids are pulled out on the day that is more of a review day for the other kids. I think I prefer the way they do it down here, especially in elementary school.

  194. “26 kids in class. 15 Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi kids (not sure about exact country or origin for couple of kids). 10 kids – China/Hong Kong/Taiwan and my kid.”

    Where are you? E.g., northeast, west coast, etc? Are there other Asian kids not in that class that your kid is in?

    What I’m wondering is if all the Asian kids are in the top math class, or if they are just the cream of a larger set of Asian kids.

  195. Mooshi,

    You raise a very valid point re girls/math boys/reading.

    As for native speaker, I always thought it had a very specific meaning. Someone who is fluent in English would know what, “Where did you go?” means. A native speaker would know the difference between a manager asking, “Where.did.you.go?” And that same manager asking, “Where’d ja go?” They would also be able to use those nuances in conversation.

    Jeremy Clarkson has a bit about being a native English speaking hinging on your ability to pronounce the world squirrel without an accent, Say it slowly and keep track on what your tongue does in your mouth…squirrel. Without being a native speaker getting your tongue to do that is impossible.

  196. Anon – makes a good point. In the home country many parents especially the mothers were not able to communicate in English. That is because they often had less education and exposure to the world outside their homes than their husbands. However, they were very interested in their kids educations and though they couldn’t help with homework they made sure to set aside time and space for study. Time – because girls were expected to help with household chores. Space – in tiny apartments study space consisted of a partition behind a curtain. It is not whether the parents can speak English or not, or how much they earn, it is how they support their child’s education.

  197. I think we should give people the benefit of the doubt when they phrase something inartfully.

  198. Sky, the Leg passed a law setting a minimum number of instructional days per year. Furlough Fridays were not done to improve education, but instead to save money. Schools were simply closed on Friday — no extended schedule on the other days, no tutoring or enrichment offered through the schools (although some of the aftercare programs associated with the schools offered a Friday schedule.) No one was viewing them as a desirable thing. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/33384103/ns/us_news-education/t/hawaii-schools-out-recession/#.VsUWyrQrKCg

  199. Lark, RMS, Ivy and others – thank you.

    Cordelia – I greatly appreciate you re-phrasing your original post with more explanation this afternoon. I’ve re-read all of today’s posts and the additional context HM provided on your background and fuller explanation later were helpful. I (now) believe your original post was poorly and quickly written and you did not realize how it could be read. But words matter. I was really and truly offended.

    Milo – No one is screaming.

  200. I am in Bay Area, CA. Of course there are Asian kids in normal classes as well. But in terms of percentages – they are disproportionately represented in accelerated classes.

    As Louise mentioned – it is not just about whether the parents are English speaking or not or whether they are of higher SES. It is about how they show support at home. We live in an area that is a good mix of single family homes and rental units. Most of the white families in my area are home owners. Asian (including Indian) families own or rent. But most of the apartment units are now slowly converting to Asian enclaves – because our school scores are improving and our area is “affordable” compared to the cities like Cupertino, Mountain View, Los Altos. Caucasian families are moving away from the area because of the perception that their kids cannot compete/keep up with the Asian kids. English is not the primary language spoken at home for most of the kids moving into the apartments around me. Yet somehow – they exceed the performance of “native” speakers.

  201. Two of my daughter’s classmates who are very poor English speakers were selected last year for the gifted and Accelerated program. It is a full pull-out program that is in another building and the students attend there full-time. I was impressed that the testing of kindergarten students is fairly blind to native language, as these children speak Chinese at home. I believe the cut off is a 98.5 percentile standardized test.

  202. On the original topic, I have seen two schools in my neighborhood which offer a short week. These are both private schools and call themselves “learning enrichment centers” or somesuch. They do not have any kind of accreditation and they put themselves out as a form of homeschool enrichment. One is arts focused for three days Per week and one purports to cover the basics in 4 days a week. They both emphasize that they leave a lot of spare time for children to pursue, with depth, their own interests.

  203. The public school where we recently removed my daughter from, was electing not to teach science or social studies in first grade. They decided they could get to that at the end of the year after the students math and language arts skills were strong. They also have an early release one day per week. That meant for four days my daughter was basically doing language arts and math for 7 1/2 hours per day with 2 15minute breaks for recess. There was no ability grouping, so it was terrible for her. In four months she went from a child who loves school, to a child who was crying every morning.

  204. I think the whole conversation could be avoided if we group kids according to their current ability by subject. This is the taboo that should be addressed instead of race.

  205. And on matters of curriculum and pedagogy, my grandchildren (with the old style kindergarten and first grade where kids can learn to read and print and not be tracked into the slow lane) live in one of the top school districts in the Commonwealth, with a killer high school I am told, one of those towns that are favored by families from ethnic groups (perhaps a good descriptor to keep in one’s lexicon for the future) with a tradition of heavy emphasis on academics – the sort of towns that are frequently avoided in the home search by other families with different priorities or concerns about the academic competition and its effect on their children. The district includes modest homes, lots of local businesses, and long time middle class residents as well – my granddaughter goes to the same elementary as did the guy who mows their lawn all summer, who still lives in the town.

    Sky, you know your child best, but from the quick description I would send him to kindergarten in public school at 5 1/2. It is your right, and the normal age. I don’t think you were around on The Old Site, but there was a funny poster who wrote an entire satirical dissertation on redshirting his son, “Ramses.” At each grade level his physical prowess was detailed, including his “exploits” as a 7th or 8th grader who shaved daily. It was a hoot.

  206. Spanish as a description of nationality means from Spain. Rafael Nadal is Spanish. People who live in California and immigrated from Latin America are Hispanic or Latin or maybe Latino. Hispanic being the accepted term for most demographic forms, and Latin sometimes being preferred depending on the person/area/age.

    Of course, beyond that, a lot of people identify strongly with their specific country of heritage too, but I think Hispanic or Spanish-speaking are both ok in this purpose of describing ethnic groups at a school.

    I think just saying Spanish-speaking in the original post would have been much more clear and inoffensive, even though we could nitpick what that really means with all this “native speaking” stuff. It’s just that people of Latin American heritage really get miffed at being called “Spanish”. It sounds like someone is grouping all “those people” together somehow. I would compare it to calling a person Oriental.

    I don’t mean to beat a dead horse. I think the clarification of the original comment changed what I took as the meaning on first read. I’m just answering the question – what would you call that group? Of course, I am a white Midwesterner, so take that for what you will.

  207. I would compare it to calling a person Oriental.

    That’s one that Hawaii got the memo on relatively late, ironically enough. I believe the Asian=people, Oriental=furniture thing originally came out of California.

  208. I think the whole conversation could be avoided if we group kids according to their current ability by subject. This is the taboo that should be addressed instead of race.

    I went to two elementary schools growing up and both did this. My kids’ school does this starting with first grade. It makes no sense to me that this is the exception and not the norm.

  209. HM, that’s funny. My SIL is Asian, and my parents, as of this past holiday season, were still using the term oriental. My SIL is completely not offended, joking that she gives a pass to anyone over 60, but that explanation you gave is what my brother explained to my parents in his request that they change their terminology. I had never heard that before.

  210. WCE– thanks for posting it. I hadn’t read it before, but there’s nothing there that’s a surprise.

    IMO, if Apple is going to do what the FBI wants, it should only do it after first releasing iOS upgrades, or a new version of iOS, that the FBI backdoor would not open. So that would be hugely expensive, and it would only be fair for the FBI to pay for that. As a taxpayer, I think that would not be a good use of tax dollars.

    Without that, opening a back door puts all iOS users at much higher risk of cybercrime. I’ve read that one way terrorist organizations fund their terrorism is via cybercrime, so I’m thinking that the net effect of opening that back door would be to increase everyone’s risk of being a victim of terrorism.

  211. “the Asian=people, Oriental=furniture”

    Just because “Oriental” can describe furniture doesn’t mean it can’t describe anything else.

    As HM mentioned, “oriental” was commonly used here to describe people of east Asian ancestry. There was no negative or derogatory connotation, so it was a big surprise to me when I went to California and found that people of east Asian descent took great offense to being referred to as Oriental.

    BTW, I find “Oriental” to be much more concise than “Asian,” as it is used by many people and the US Census Bureau. “Oriental” pretty clearly excludes Asians from places like the Arabian Peninsula, most of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, etc., that are part of Asia, which many people, and the Census Bureau, exclude from their use of “Asian” as a descriptor of people.

  212. The assumption that everyone supporting Trump is a jerk is easily made when one knows very few people IRL who are Trump supporters. But he has a ton of support, and they can’t all be jerks. Just as everyone who supports Sanders is not a naive twentysomething, and everyone who supports Clinton is not an angry woman of a certain age with sensible shoes.

  213. I know lots of people supporting Trump. Including some family members. They are all jerks. I honestly don’t think you can support him without being one. I have never thought that about another candidate/supporters ever.

  214. My school did ability-based grouping for reading groups, math groups, etc. I think it kept me from being bored to tears, but also made me a target. Our local district offers a “gifted and talented” elementary program that is opened by testing starting in third grade. A lot of parents opt out of the full day program for a variety of reasons, including the fact that you can have elementary aged kids going to different schools with the same drop off time.

    I am really pleased so far with Montessori for my kids. The are not grouped by ability much, but because they are self-paced, it seems to work well for most of the kids. Not all. But so far my two are learning well and we’re happy. My 3 year old son has a late Spring birthday, and I’ve already been asked whether or not we’d hold him back– I don’t anticipate redshirting him unless he seems really immature or behind. On the original topic, I think 4 “hard” days of work with a 5th day of enrichment sounds very, very adult oriented. I’d much rather see 5 days that include time for academic work and time for recess, music, p.e., etc, as other posters suggested.

  215. Cat – Trump and Sanders are both anti-votes at least as much as they are pro-votes. Most of Trump’s supporters, I would wager, don’t really agree with the more extreme things he’s said, just as most of Sanders’ supporters (the gainfully employed ones) would neversupport the sort of tax increases his proposals would require. It’s just that they want to support someone who challenges the status quo, plus the other things I said before. There is (maybe will be?) a shocking degree of crossover appeal between the two of them.

    There have been a few very good articles that sampled and profiled Trump suporters at his rallies, including political independents, Democrats, and monorities.

  216. My kids have ability based grouping for reading in elementary. They are tested every year. Until last year the grouping for the highest level was a separate program and parents could opt out of it as it involved more work than the regular class. This year the test is still there but the separate program name has been eliminated and you can’t opt your kid out of the highest reading group.
    However, this doesn’t mean that the “regular” or “gen-ed” class as described in the NY Times article is inferior. Kids who catch up on reading can move into the higher reading group. It is done in such a way that all kids receive a good “base” education, those that need help get it, those that need challenging, get that and there is movement so a kid’s kindergarten test results are not the be all and end all. That is what surprised me about the NYC article – there was no way late bloomers could get into the G&T program. I guess I am ignorant of G&T programs in general.

  217. All my life I have heard Spanish and Anglo used as shorthand for various Hispanic and non-Hispanic ethnicities. Although as a Mexican-American I can see that how it can be confusing, it does not offend me. It also does not offend me when people talk about the politics of why grouping students by proficiency is opposed. That’s just straight talk, as far as I’m concerned. That’s why I found no offense in the original comment. This blog helps me understand how others see these things.

    We all have our hot buttons. I hope we can continue to discuss some of our differences without creating too much discord and offense.

  218. To me, Spanish means from Spain, Hispanic means Spanish speaking from the Americas, and Latino means something more inclusive but I can’t quite figure out what it is. Supposedly, the term Latino also includes Portuguese speaking Brazilians, who really aren’t Hispanic since they don’t speak Spanish. But does Latino include people from Spain? And since it really means “of Latin origin”, wouldn’t that also include people from France and Italy? Very confusing. The real problem is trying to use one term to cover a plethora of cultures. Cubans, Hondurans, and Spaniards don’t really have that much in common so maybe we are better off just using the national origin.

  219. The big problem with ability grouping in elementary school is that most elementary schools do not divide the day up by subject. Kids have wildly different abilities – when my DD was in first grade, for example, she struggled in reading but excelled in math. Where do you place a kid like that in your standard elementary school?

    I went to an elementary school for 3 years as a kid which was supposedly experimental – it was even written about in a national magazine. They did micro-ability grouping. Our day was divided by subject and we went to different teachers for the different subjects. You could be placed in any one of 4 groups for each subject, and you could also be placed out of grade for that subject. When I was in 4th, for example, I was placed in 5th grade level 2 for math. But, what made this really work was that it was highly data driven, in an era when that term didn’t even exist. We were tested every quarter and then placed. Each quarter, you could move up or down based on your test scores. It was confusing because people moved around a lot, but it worked. But kids didn;t have the one warm and fuzzy classroom teacher that oversaw everything, which I think most parents expect for their elementary school kids. There was no “whole child” emphasis.

  220. Sky – PLEASE send him now. He may still be bored stiff, but not as much as if you wait a year.

    Also, WRT the school not skipping – if things get bad, pull out for a year or portion thereof, put the kid in the NEXT grade in the private school, then they can go back to the public school in the next grade. This is what my DH’s parents did when his fifth grade teacher threatened to fail him (first semester) because he was so bored that he was reading advanced books under his desk. He went into 6th grade for the next semester at a private school and then went back into public school for 7th. The private school was not particularly good, but it did the trick of advancing him at least a little.

  221. It doesn’t matter if Oriental is more precise. It matters if it offends people and marks you as ignorant when used in conversation who are put off by its use in 2016.

    Latin/Latino in current times means from Latin America which would include non-Spanish speaking countries like Brazil and Haiti. But obviously does not include France even though French is a Latin-based language. It’s short for Latin American. France is not part of Latin America.

    Language matters. Being able to navigate diverse situations in real life without saying anything offensive to other people, including a client or employer, matters a hell of a lot more than calculus. COC is okay with being called Spanish. That’s her right – it’s her heritage. But I’m not going to take the chance that my Hispanic client or boss is okay with it.

  222. Kids have wildly different abilities – when my DD was in first grade, for example, she struggled in reading but excelled in math. Where do you place a kid like that in your standard elementary school?

    In my kids’ school (which obviously is standard based on what people post here), she would go to a higher leverl math group and a lower level literacy group. It’s really very simple.

  223. Ivy – Could you answer the question of whether you think it’s racist to predict the outcome described in the NYT article?

  224. “France is not part of Latin America.”
    as long as you exclude French Guyana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin, St. Barth.
    (Some might want to drop the last four, but if you’re going to include Cuba and the Dominican Republic in Latin America they should be on the list)

  225. as to all the candidates, I am most inclined to vote for the candidate who asks for my vote by actually coming to my state and making the case why I should support him/her because they will be good for me/the people here. But that’ll never happen (until we get proportional electoral college vote awarding vs winner take all).

  226. Fred – that is so interesting. I am most likely to vote for the person whose policies I believe are best for the country as a whole; I don’t care whether they visit my state or not.

  227. @Milo – do I think it’s racist to say – before a program is implemented – that if tracking is based on ability that the gifted class is going to be all Asian and White kids and all the Hispanic and Black kids are going to be in the remedial class? There are so nuances to what you may be trying to say, that I just don’t know. I guess I would say at a minimum that it is an assumption that shouldn’t be expressed out loud in polite company. As a simple statement, it seems that you could be easily seen to be making an assumption that the inherent ability of certain demographic groups is lower in all situations. Is it something that it’s possible to have an intellectual discussion about? Of course – and schools/parents DO have those when they design HOW to track kids – what tests to use, whether or not quotas should be used, and if so what types of quotas. But it seems like a minefield where it would be very easy to step in it in general conversation.

    BTW – Black, White, Hispanic and Asian are the terms used by my public school district to report demographics for schools. Hispanic is a demographic group. Limited English students is the term that they use to represent the language support needed. So one elementary school in my general area has a 65% Hispanic population but only a 12% Limited English speaking population for instance.

  228. Like L, I really don’t care if the candidate asks for my vote or visits the state! But I can see how it could signal the candidates level of interest to voters.

  229. Dell..exactly. I do not want my vote taken for granted!
    L..I actually do care deeply about policy implications of those elected to govern. It’s just that on the presidential level NY is just so solidly in the D column, the candidates can afford to skip coming here (except for NYC to raise money).

  230. Any candidate I support would have better sense than to waste time visiting my state, which he or she could never win.

    I almost never disclose my political views IRL because I am well aware I would be a social pariah for preferring small government :)

  231. ” I guess I would say at a minimum that it is an assumption that shouldn’t be expressed out loud in polite company.”

    And this is where we get down to the reason why there’s such a backlash against political correctness. Nobody is suggesting that all members of a particular group are incapable, or should not be given a chance, or anything that actually would meet the definition of racist.

    But we’ve gotten to the point where you’re saying that this sort of thing simply shouldn’t even be talked about “in polite company.” And to do so means that ATM, if not screaming, becomes “disgusted” to hear it.

    People who actually face these issues every day, by sending their kids to socioeconomically diverse public schools, are told by those who send their kids to private schools that they shouldn’t talk about the issue because they risk sounding ignorant. And if they use a term not approved in the latest update of the PC Dictionary, Rocky is standing by to correct them.

  232. For what it’s worth, in my ES there were 4 classes in each grade. 1-3 were heterogeneous, IIRC, except in reading where within the class there were the ABCD groups or whatever, A being best and for some of us beginning in 2nd grade, including me, natch, we were pulled out 1 day/wk to do GT things separate from everyone else (we met in the janitor’s office/workroom when we weren’t on field trips only for us) for which we got no grades. 4-6 had homogeneous Math classes for which we switched teachers, but all else was random, or so it seemed. Except the GT thing expanded to 2 days/wk. I don’t know if I got any actual academic advantage in later years from this set up, but I really wasn’t bored.

  233. Oh yes, God forbid if someone takes away our ability to make off-hand, semi-racist remarks in public. Most Trump supporters belong to this category IMO. Imagine if an Asian origin poster from Kentucky made a similar remark instead, but just used Asians for Anglos and rednecks for Spanish.
    ( I understand what Cordelia meant after her further clarification).

  234. “People who actually face these issues every day, by sending their kids to socioeconomically diverse public schools, are told by those who send their kids to private schools that they shouldn’t talk about the issue because they risk sounding ignorant.”

    I am sorry that is the case where you live Milo. As someone who does send their kids to a socioeconomically diverse public school, I have not been told by others (whether they send their kids to private or public schools) not to talk about race and class issues. Far from it. My kids schools faces these issues daily. The best way to reach understanding, IME, is for those of us who do not face these issues daily to LISTEN to those who do. That’s different than being told to not talk about it or to shut up. What comes up time and time again when I have listened is that those who are aggrieved don’t feel heard, whether by other parents, the PTO, the administration, the local government, etc., and feel disenfranchised.

    The problem with ability grouping, which I agree with in theory, is that no one trusts that it is actually done based on ability. And unfortunately, America history fully backs that view. Grouping has all too often been used as a cover for discriminatory practices.

  235. BTW Milo I am really curious why you used the word “screaming”. That in and of itself has misogynist overtones, but I’ve probably stirred the pot enough for this week.

  236. “Oh yes, God forbid if someone takes away our ability to make off-hand, semi-racist remarks in public.”

    You say that sarcastically and dismissively, but when you’ve expanded the definition of “racist” so far beyond its origins, then yeah, it becomes annoying to a lot of people. That’s where we are when the best answer Ivy can give about how to discuss the facts is to simply not discuss it in polite company.

    The I think is perfectly exemplified in Rocky’s comment wondering why everyone can’t just be expected to say, all the time, something like “The schools can’t segregate by ability, because many of the students in the slower track will be less fluent in English, and some will protest that that reflects instutionalized racism.”

    This is the same Rocky who spends many days helping semi-literate adults use the internet, and that’s the disparity I can’t understand. Not everyone is capable of dancing around delicate wording, and people rightfully resent feeling like they have to just to express their concerns without being labeled racist/bigot/whatever-phobe. Which is exactly what you’re still doing, Dell.

  237. My kids’ school is solidly middle class.

    “The best way to reach understanding, IME, is for those of us who do not face these issues daily to LISTEN to those who do.”

    But calling someone racist, or calling her remarks racist, is not listening.

  238. After listening to this thread, two things:
    +1 to Houston re giving someone the benefit of the doubt when (not if) they phrase something inartfully
    +1 to ATM “words do matter”. I try very hard to say please and thank you all.the.time. (at least when people can hear me) Please pass the salt. Thank you for folding the laundry. I’d like a $20 gift card please. Thanks to the drive thru clerk/trash guy/janitor at work. Imagine what your household / workplace would be without please and thank you. So I can see how some things, inartfully or just outright nastily, would upset others.

  239. Everyone here certainly can learn how to speak without racial overtones. I am part of the minority group being discussed and I found the comment offensive. I do not think you need to be a racist (and I do not believe Cordelia is) in order to make racially inappropriate statements. And the proper response when being told by someone that it is not appropriate isn’t to fight back. It is to think about what you said and what could be implied by it and hopefully think about things a bit more in the future. Which is exactly what Cordelia did. And all is forgotten and we move on. If that is too PC and not ok with you, fine. But know that other people notice these things and the more educated and well-spoken you are, the more they will hold it against you.

  240. BTW, I thought this was an interesting article, and it touches on what I’m trying to convey here. I remember when I was in early high school and kids started to experiment with political identities. My liberal Democrat friend used to always come back at me with “the Democratic Party is the party of the working man.” This was something that he had learned to be proud of, and how quaint that seems now. Now he’d be far more likely to snicker that the Republican base represents “the gun-toting, religious” working class.

    This article illustrates the change, and I think it’s something that Meme’s been hinting at writing about for some time.

    In truth, our affluent, establishment Democrats can no more be budged from their core dogmas – that education is the solution to all problems, THAT PROFESSIONALS DESERVE TO LEAD

    (caps emphasis mine)

    http://www.theguardian.com/global/2016/feb/16/the-issue-is-not-hillary-clintons-wall-st-links-but-her-partys-core-dogmas

  241. Milo – I said it’s probably best to just not go there meaning that it’s hard to have a discussion about that in casual conversation. Not that it’s never okay to discuss. I specifically said that it is a conversation that MUST be had. But if you are throwing out off hand remarks in casual conversation it is really easy to step in it because the topic is too nuanced for the water cooler. It’s easy to throw out something like “Anglo kids are smarter than Spanish kids” – well, there is a whole lot offensive in that sentence. (Yes, I realize that is not what our poster actually wrote, I’m just using that as an example.) I wouldn’t talk about abortion or religion at the water cooler either.

    I might send my kid to private school, but I live in a racially and socioeconomically diverse area, and I actually confront these issues every single day. I don’t find it onerous to be sensitive to wording things carefully when having conversations, and I certainly don’t think sending my kids to private school eliminates my right to have an opinion about what is and is not offensive in casual conversation.

  242. Milo, thanks for defending me.

    I had thought not to respond, but I will anyway.

    I didn’t say Hispanic because I didn’t mean Hispanic. I said Spanish when I meant Spanish speaking. The two are different. Hispanic tends refer to people whose ancestors came from the Iberian Peninsula or South America. My husband is Hispanic. Spanish (which is used as shorthand for Spanish speaking, not as a equivalent n word slur) refers to speaking Spanish as a native or primary language. The two are different things.

    The reality in a high immigrant area is that there will be a large number of children entering the school system at various ages with limited to no English skills. These children might be Laotian, Hmong, Syrian, or of Hispanic descent, or of something else. Although we have some Arab kids, most of the non English speakers speak Spanish.

    If the school groups the kids by skill level (will not use the word ability, because while the school might be able to measure skills, I have serious doubts about their capacity to measure ability), and the kids who don’t speak English will not be grouped with the kids who do speak English. This has negative repercussions for the nonnative English speakers learning English and is bad for the community because the kids don’t make the childhood friendships necessary to promote trust and bonds among the adults. However, when kids are not grouped by skill levels, there is a huge waste of time, and most kids will not learn as much as the could or as much as they need.

    There is a tension between putting the kids together in a hetereogenous classroom, which benefits the community, and putting the kids in a skill grouping which benefits the individual child. Not being able to discuss this and other realities is one of the things driving people to Trump. He may be a boorish autocrat, but he is at least addressing some issues without constant focus grouping.

  243. Yes, Milo, to you, it might feel like there is PC police out everywhere, but the sad truth is that, oftentimes, when some people (not from this bog) make such remarks, they are not really being inartful, but just being bigots. Those are the people who really need to be reminded to be polite.

  244. The problem with ability grouping, which I agree with in theory, is that no one trusts that it is actually done based on ability. And unfortunately, America history fully backs that view. Grouping has all too often been used as a cover for discriminatory practices.

    I trust it. My kids’ school is very mixed in terms of race, nationality and income, and to my knowledge, nobody has complained about the performance grouping being done in a racist manner. We all see everything through the lenses of our own experiences of course, and that’s been my experience.

    And when there does seem to be racism involved, I think it’s more a result of the classism that we’ve talked about before. The parents who advocate for their kids and know how to work the system get the “preferential treatment”, for lack of a better term, are disproportionately white and upper class/UMC.

  245. Dell – Yes, that’s true. There’s no getting around that. But where that true bigotry and mean-spiritedness exists, debating the nuances of political correctness–native vs. fluent, American Indian vs. Native American, etc.–is simply not going to help that, and it will likely be counterproductive.

    The benefit of the doubt, as Houston said, for when someone is clearly not being mean-spirited, is appropriate.

    Considering that a polite and conscientious person would never correct someone’s improper grammar, how did we get to the point where it’s desirable to nit pick these sorts of things?

  246. If the school groups the kids by skill level (will not use the word ability, because while the school might be able to measure skills, I have serious doubts about their capacity to measure ability), and the kids who don’t speak English will not be grouped with the kids who do speak English. This has negative repercussions for the nonnative English speakers learning English and is bad for the community because the kids don’t make the childhood friendships necessary to promote trust and bonds among the adults. However, when kids are not grouped by skill levels, there is a huge waste of time, and most kids will not learn as much as the could or as much as they need.

    But you can do both, it’s not an either or situation. In our school, the performance grouping is only for math and literacy. The kids are all still together for the rest of the day.

  247. “It doesn’t matter if Oriental is more precise. It matters if it offends people and marks you as ignorant when used in conversation who are put off by its use in 2016.”

    It also works both ways, and context matters.

    As HM mentioned, the Asian/Oriental thing happened at different times here and in CA. I’ve also not seen people of east Asian ancestry who grew up here take offense at the use of “Oriental” to describe people of that ancestry.

    When I moved to CA, “Oriental” was still in very common use here, and “Asian” was rarely, if ever, heard here to describe those of east Asian ancestry, which was not the case in CA. I can remember many discussions with friends and acquaintances from here, most of them of east Asian descent, who were taken aback by the level of offense taken at the use of “Oriental” to describe people, even when it was used by people of east Asian ancestry, and/or in reference to people other than the people taking offense.

    (Note the difference relative to the n-word apparently being offensive when used by those not of African ancestry, but being OK when used between those of African ancestry.)

    But we all realized that was the norm there, and conformed.

    However, if some of those CA Asians were to have come here at that time, and taken offense to the common use of the term “Oriental” here, that would have shown them to be ignorant, and likely would have put off many local people as well.

  248. “But you can do both, it’s not an either or situation. In our school, the performance grouping is only for math and literacy. The kids are all still together for the rest of the day.”

    I agree. When I was in HS, while we were stratified by skill level for classes like math and science, there were still standard freshman and sophomore social studies classes that were not stratified, and many of the language arts and upper grade social studies classes were divided by interest, not skill level.

    At my kids’ school, in HS they are randomly grouped into classes of about 20 or so kids into advisory classes that stay together for all four years. These classes are non-academic, but meet every morning for things like announcements, and about once a week have a longer meeting with some time set aside for just socializing and bonding. One of the main goals of this is to create the friendships across academic skill levels and interests to which Cordelia referred as a benefit of heterogeneous grouping.

  249. “Considering that a polite and conscientious person would never correct someone’s improper grammar, how did we get to the point where it’s desirable to nit pick these sorts of things?”

    Remember the discussion we had on edginess?

    BTW, I apologize; I’ve not been very conscientious about commenting on all the nits of this sort here.

  250. Did you lose some money or something by being told what the current polite conventions are? If not, what are you screaming about?

  251. Rocky – I enjoy the debates about it, and I enjoy the political nature of the topic. I have not been adversely affected by it, though I I’d say that I am becoming much more of a populist in middle age.

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