Kindergarten Derby

By A. G. Moore April 15, 2012

So NYC is once again pitting five-year-olds against each other. For those who lose this race to early childhood education, the contest offers a kind of proxy education, an education in what to expect in their future economic and social races. The deck is always stacked in favor of those who have and the outcome is more a matter of design than a matter of chance. In the 2012 kindergarten derby the winners will be granted coveted spots in the city’s gifted programs; the losers will be granted less desirable placements.

And the stakes are: long-term benefits for all of a child’s life. The science is in–early childhood education makes a difference in income, education and life satisfaction as the rewards of this experience are reaped in adulthood. These gains are most dramatic in a cohort of culturally and economically deprived children. Predictably enough, the “winners” in New York’s kindergarten derby, the ones who score high on the entrance exams and get into coveted “gifted” programs,will be those whose parents prep them for the examinations (for kindergarten!!!) with study guides and even cram schools.

The disgrace of the kindergarten derby is so apparent that I do not need to belabor it here. I merely wish to highlight the existence of this ongoing social injustice. An injustice that perpetuates, through tax-supported government policy, an increasing social and economic disparity in the U. S.

There’ll be grumbling about this year’s kindergarten derby; some of the grumbling will come from the privileged middle and upper class parents who are used to getting what they want. This group’s discontent will undoubtedly bring about change, change that will increase accessibility for those who have means.

The other grumbling, noise from the economically and socially disadvantaged, this will yield no change, because in an environment of purported resource scarcity, this is the group that always gets the short stick.

After all, what are they going to do about it?

Resources

New York Times Article, 2011
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/21/more-preschoolers-test-as-gifted-even-as-diversity-imbalance-persists/

New York Times Article 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/14/nyregion/as-ranks-of-gifted-soar-in-ny-fight-brews-for-kindergarten-slots.html

High Scope Project
http://www.highscope.org/

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