There is no doubt that the K-12 educational system in this country has issues. The statistics get thrown around on the news from time to time when there isn’t anything else to talk about. Things have been so bad for so long that when the subject comes up most people roll their eyes and say, yeah we need to fix that.
Well, let’s not look at it from the graduation rate, let’s not even think about reading level upon graduation which are two of the favorite stats that get thrown out.
Here is something I learned today that should scare anyone into action who has kids that are about to enter, or are currently in school.
On a national level 5-6 percent of kids in KINDERGARTEN repeat the grade. In some localities, for instance in the worst of inner cities that retention rate is 10 percent or more. It doesn’t stop there.
Think about this for a second. Kids coming out of that level must be able to identify colors, letters, numbers and the like. They should be able to read simple words (I, am, me, see, etc). They should be able to tell stories to adults about their day, answer questions, and be ready counting their coins (pennies, quarters, etc). Remember, that these kids are 6-years old at the end of the grade level.
In fact age 6 is one of the most likely times for kids to be held back!
We need to kick start kids in life, not hold them back. If children have issues with kindergarten I think parents hold a great deal of this responsibility.
Think it is just impossible?
I have a 5 year old that does all of these things, and more. Now, I take daily efforts to nudge my children on all things academic. That same 5 year old can also add and subtract so he’s all set for entering the k-12 system next year. I’m not concerned for him. I’m concerned for us as a society.
When there are this number of kids who start out life behind we should all be worried.
Well, enter another article I found. One that says kids are worse off if they are held back away from their friends or same age kids. It’s bad for them socially according to the department of education and maybe we shouldn’t hold them back, for the benefit of the individual.
Ok, I get it, it’s embarrassing for these kids.
Well, not everyone gets a trophy every time.
Sometimes if you aren’t ready to move on, you just aren’t. Let’s think about solving this problem. Not just passing kids who can’t make the grade. That doesn’t solve anything, it just makes it worse and it appears to be starting at kindergarten.
I believe that it isn’t just our k-12 system that is letting us down. I think we have a large number of parents that are not stepping up to the plate. It is time for us to put emphasis back on education in the home. It isn’t enough to just drop kids off at school and say ok I’m done with my part. Oh no no no. We must be involved in ensuring our kids are learning. We must help them with their homework.
Being a parent is hard work. I know that some people believe it takes a village to raise a child and that may have some validity. I can’t be his teacher on all subjects. I can’t be his coach on every team. However, that doesn’t not excuse me from being a parent.
We have to find ways to influence other parents to take responsibility. We also need to clean up our k-12 system when it fails.
My point here is that our kids are not learning. We all want to blame the system, but as with most things in life there is no “one size fits all answer.” The actual root cause of the problem may not be any one thing. It will take a functional k-12 system. It also takes kids being in a functional home, with parent(s) who are actively involved in their education until they are old enough to take responsibility for themselves.
K-5 is a very important part of education. It is the basis. It is when parents must be the most involved. I think parents have a hard job. But we must step up to the plate and do what we must to ensure our children get the start in life they deserve. Don’t blame anyone for what is wrong, let’s all fix it. Let’s get together and ensure that we work with them at home and also ensure that they have a great place to go learn.
Timothy Imholt PhD
Tim is a weekly contributor to this blog as well as an engineer during the day. He also has written a number of books including the best selling Forest of Assassins and the newly released The Last World War.