Wednesday, December 14, 2016


A local high school student group is having a fundraiser. Are they selling citrus fruit? Candy bars? Spirit Wear? No. They are selling survival kits. Mid-term survival kits.

Now, there's nothing wrong with this venture except that the idea that you need a survival kit to get through midterms is truly one that belongs in college, not in high school. I don't begrudge the student organization an opportunity to raise funds. I don't think there's anything wrong with parents wanting to do something nice for their kids.

But I do think there is something inherently wrong with a school system culture that says that the way to prepare students for the next step is to make them do the next step before they are ready. Pushing high school students beyond reasonable expectations just because "it's going to be like that in college" is unhelpful at best and harmful at worst.

The same holds true for making Kindergarten more like First Grade in order to "get them ready." Children's developmental needs and stages are more or less constant. It's ridiculous to keep backing up and backing up higher level expectations as a way of meeting future standards.

Preparation means doing the things that you are meant to be doing at your own particular stage. Those things have value. We need to respect them.

School parent Chris Krupiarz said this about unrealistic school work loads and their consequences.

When they get to college they'll do what they need to do.  There's time for college and time for a 40 year career.  There's also time for being a kid that they will never get back.

Judging from self-reported anecdotal evidence, work load can vary wildly from school to school. Perhaps that's something the new board of ed can look at. (You know, in their spare time.) One thing that we can do as parents and community members is to defend the rights of children and young people to have a balanced life which includes family time, adequate sleep, play, recreation, and values them as vital parts of the equation.

The promise of preparation is not "survival". We need to choose the road that means our children can thrive.

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