Lots of talk amongst the blog worlds this week about the NYTimes Red Shirting Kindergarten article:
very good coverage of the article and the points it brings up, all of it.
But really, really what they should be talking about is that FINALLY - the NYTimes magazine crossword puzzle was easy enough for even an idiot like me to do! Usually, it takes me all week to get even one corner of that damn thing done. Even with my dictionary. (But never the internet...I draw the line at using the internet to help with my xword puzzle addiction. Only the dictionaries will do.)
But this week - this week, I got a significant portion done in ONE night. I couldn't believe it.
Seriously though. I just don't get why the Kindergarten start date is such a big deal. I have friends who are agonizing over it. Son D. is born in mid-September, so he won't start Kindergarten until 2008. Our cut-off is Sept 1. But if he'd been born in mid-August, he would start in 2007 - there's no way I would have held him.
I think I mentioned that I started with a new "little sister" in March. She is a fantastic, lovely, amazing little girl. I adore her.
This experience has completely changed my life in a way that my two previous "littles" didn't. I wasn't a mother when I started with the other two. I knew they were poor, but the concept of childhood poverty didn't really resonate with me back then.
Now, it hits my heart and my soul. I don't want to write too much about it here, because she's not my child and it's not my story to tell. But she's poor in the "not enough food or clothing" category and frankly, I'm finding myself getting FURIOUS with the world for allowing so many children to be in this category.
We've had a rough beginning, in many ways. Poverty makes a lot of things hard - scheduling, communication, and transportation, in particular. But we are working it out. Flexibility has never been my strong suit, so I'm sure in some warped way this is all some sort of valuable life lesson for me.
So, when I hear my local upper-class friends agonizing about whether to start Kindergarten this year or next year, it takes every bit of my self control not to YELL - "YOUR KID WILL BE FINE EITHER WAY!" For those kids who were blessed enough to be born into families with high-speed internet, food on the table, 2 cars, boots in the winter and sandals in the summer, books, 2 parents, and the occasional vacation.....they are going to be fine. It doesn't matter.
What if we could take even 1/10th of the energy wasted on worrying about topics such as this and put it towards the very real and very growing problem of the increasing number of children growing up in severely poor situations...
According to the NCCP:
Nearly 13 million children in the United States—18% of all children—live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level—$20,650 a year for a family of four.
8 years ago, that was just a statistic. A big, disturbing statistic, but none-the-less, just a number. Didn't really affect my day-to-day life.
Now, between the number of D's classmates who live in poverty (over 60%) and my new "Big" experience, it has finally become part of my every-day life. So it's very hard to read the Times' coverage of Red Shirts in Kindergarten when I'm dealing with kids who struggle just to have shirts to wear.
It's almost enough to make me vote for John Edwards. (almost...if only he wasn't so protectionist. My economist-alter-ego just can't stomach that part of his platform.)