Mountain View Voice

News - February 1, 2013

Delaying kindergarten: should district have a say?

The father of a young girl is taking issue with the Mountain View Whisman School District over whether he can delay his daughter's entry into kindergarten for a year.

Previously under California law, parents were allowed to unilaterally hold their children back one full year before starting school, according to Superintendent Craig Goldman. In practice, parents who chose to do so usually started their children in kindergarten at or shortly before the age of 6. Such a child would theoretically remain one year older than his or her classmates all the way through high school.

Now, Goldman said, the district is entitled to weigh in on whether it is appropriate for parents to hold a student back — and that is exactly what the district plans to do.

The parent, who asked to remain anonymous because he doesn't want his other child (currently enrolled in the district) to be treated any differently, said he would have liked to see the district take a hands-off approach. Just because MVWSD officials are allowed to enter into the decision making process, doesn't mean they should, he said.

Goldman said that the district is going to take each request to hold a child back on a case-by-case basis.

Even after hearing Goldman's assurance that children who are not ready to start school will be permitted to stay back an extra year, the father said he was still not satisfied.

Parents know their children better than any school official could ever know them, he said. So why should the school be able to override a parent's decision?

One reason, for the district to have a say, according to Goldman, is that it would be unfair for parents to start holding their children back simply so that they had a competitive advantage -— in other words "parents making a strategic choice to give their children an advantage over other children."

And a representative with the California Department of Education wondered whether children who were held back might feel out of place, especially if their physical development is out of step with that of their peers.

Comments

Posted by William Symons, a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 4, 2013 at 9:12 am

I think Craig and the district are making a good choice here. Check out Wikipedia for Red Shirting for Interesting studies and facts.

Our 8 yr old 3rd grade (and currently very successful) son has an early Nov Birthday. We started him at Huff at 4, (on time, by the cut off standards of the time) only after discussions with the Huff principal, and (awesome) kinder teacher Mr E.. My son could have potentially been red shirted by 2 years. In many cases I dont think it is fair to red shirt kids just so they have a particular advantage above his/her peers, also maybe compromising any advantage of those who start on time. I think it is good to have the district (teachers and school staff) involved with this decision, making sure it is fair for the child and their peers, and that disparities in the class room are minimized.


Posted by whatever, a resident of Whisman Station
on Feb 11, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I am so glad you published this article because it has been really confusing what the district's policy is....there are so many rumors going around. I have several friends who have been told opposite things by their schools. I think that people with kids who are ELIGIBLE for kindergarten next year HAVE to be registered for kindergarten for next year or they could get put into first grade with no kindergarten. I think that is what it is, but I have never seen an announcement. I tried calling the district office but didn't really get a clear answer. I wish it was clearer what the policy is. It would be great to publish this as an announcement in the Voice, if it hasn't been done already.


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