These comments were posted by a kindergarten teacher in response to a post about the Common Core English language arts standards:

I teach kindergarden. The five-year olds have an incredibly tight schedule to keep in our county: an hour of math, hour of science, 2 hours of language arts, half hour of social studies. We kindergarten teachers have had to sneak in rest time and social centers (such as puppets, blocks, housekeeping, playdough) which are so critical to their development.

My class has 13 out of 16 ELL students (Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Arabic & a dialect from India are all represented). Ten of them are free or reduced lunch (aka low socio economics). Two of them never went to preschool at all, and two are on the spectrum, one severely so. All of them have to read by the end of the year. All of them have been required to participate in two close reading activities which required writing sentences.

Both of my formal observations were done during the first 60 days of school. I was criticized because my students don’t do “turn & talk” correctly (they didn’t respond to their peer by telling them why they either agree with or disagree with them). I was evaluated as “lacking in pedagogy” because I asked them to give me facts from a kindergarten level book on stars and they repeatedly tried to tell me what they knew/thought. I was told I require action in pedagogy because the book I used to sing and act out verbs also included several words (such as jump, paint, swing, march, & slide) that were also nouns and because my students could not do charades without my assistance (which I gladly gave but caused that part of the lesson to go on too long). Apparently, my pedagogy went mysteriously missing over the summer, as I’ve never been criticized for that in any of my previous 20 years of teaching experience.

They have been forced to sit through the two close readings that go on for three days each and require them to write notes and then sentences to explain what they learned. My poor babies turned in papers with sentences made of fragments from our fact chart we had made, but they hung their heads because they couldn’t read the sentences they’d managed to write. I hugged them, told them they were great, and gave them chocolate. Then I reported that only 4 of my students passed….another poor reflection on my teaching.

If this is happening in kindergarten, I can only imagine what is happening in later grades. My school is set in a high socio-economic neighborhood and has been an A school for 12 years now; I shudder to think how this affects the less fortunate schools!


This comment came from another kindergarten teacher, responding to the post about the treatment of students with special needs:

I am a kindergarten teacher, stressed to the nth degree from having to push 5 year olds in ways that make my blood boil from the wrongness of it. It is immoral to ask 5 year olds to write facts from a story they are listening to and to write sentences when they are only learning to read & write!!

For trying to show that this is too difficult for my students during observations, I have been given far lower scores that I’ve ever received in 20 years of teaching.

Then there is the matter of my own sweet son. He is 12 years old, has ADHD and feels like a failure. His teachers tell me that his thinking in math and science amaze them; that he comes up with solutions and ideas that they have never thought of….yet he is failing because he forgets to hand in homework or write his name on papers, which is clearly the executive functioning skills which he lacks. They tell me he is immature and needs to repeat the grade, yet stay in gifted because he is so obviously bright….how can these coincide? He is already stressed because his failing grades and bullying on the bus, but now they want to retain him????