Redshirting (don't confuse with redlining) is holding a child back until they are the oldest instead of the youngest in a class. Parents want to ensure their kid doesn't get left back in a system that is all about ranking and sorting all along the way. Even the youngest children are now graded and tested and good jobs are not available for those with only a high school degree, though prisons proliferate, which means kids must perform to earn scholarship money for colleges that are unaffordable to the majority. But no pressure.

Gladwell's Outliers had chapters on the youngest phenomena and Canadian hockey leagues and it is interesting stuff. I thought the book revealed a lot about how an industrial approach to sorting kids into programs coupled with a culture that likes to use competition to further sort and reward/punish people, is completely unfair and a crude mechanism at best. Of course, schools do not have to function this way. We can move away from a factory model where we entrust children to professionals who process through the controlled content so they can be credentialed. We could move toward a learning services model that allows families to make choices and children to learn without the grading and ranking that cause redshirting.

But don't look for any insights into our industrial, factory-model school system or any clear-headed facts about how unsupported and stressed the American family is in the neoliberal, winner-take-all society.  No, 60 Minutes blames that perennial favorite, bad parents for this problem.

Viewed from the comfy salary level of these reporters, parents, pushing for what they see as small but meaningful advantages for their child in a society so harsh and punitive, are just trying too hard. Relax. Your kids will turn out fine.

At least it feels that way for those 1% journalists so bemused and befuddled by middle-class US families.  If you want to give your kid a leg up as a working-class parent, however, the humor is over, and the so-called crime of theft of education will keep families in line. The sorting and ranking will not be subverted and a more democratic and citizen-based approach to schooling doesn't make for a well-behaved 99%.

Schools that allowed families to choose classes and participation level would allow families ways to ensure their kids are rested, healthy and able to shape their social world as well as their learning journey. In doing that, schools could expand the social life of entire communities.

UPDATE: Just saw this on G+, h/t Mike Elgan

Influence of relative age on diagnosis and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children
"Boys who were born in December were 30% more likely ... to receive a diagnosis of ADHD than boys born in January. Girls born in December were 70% more likely ... to receive a diagnosis of ADHD than girls born in January. Similarly, boys were 41% more likely ... and girls 77% more likely ... to be given a prescription for a medication to treat ADHD if they were born in December than if they were born in January."
60 Minutes Overtime, 03.04.12 - 60 Minutes - CBS News:

UPDATE: Gladwell's answer to the problem is here (break up classes by birth date) of course, schools rarely work out solutions since they have police power over families. I'm betting lots of districts just make a rule about this even though the ADHD finding speaks volumes about the schools' ability to handle and understand child behavior.

background post
blaming parents, blaming the family
make public schools truly public
what's wrong with the schools?
every parent should have real choices
semi-private clubs called schools

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