Mississippi seems to be following the advice of Arne Duncan and theCommon Core: Make school harder!

In this Hechinger Report article by Kayleigh Skinner and Chris Kieffer, we learn that kindergarten kids will be “expected to write sentences, know most letters of the alphabet and recognize and write the first 10 numerals” by October. Yet two months since the school year began, 29 percent of the 298 kindergarten students at Neshoba Central have missed at least one day. Eight have missed five days or more….”

“The absences are leading to both academic and financial consequences in a state where students already lag behind their peers throughout the country, consistently posting some of the lowest test scores in the U.S.

“The absences are also leading to students falling behind just as they start their education. One in 14 Mississippi kindergarten students had to repeat their grade in 2008 because they weren’t prepared to move on, according to the Southern Education Foundation.

“It essentially creates a double obstacle,” said Steve Suitts, Southern Education Foundation vice president, noting that the state’s pre-k offerings are meager. “It means that kids who don’t get to kindergarten will be even further behind than the kids who have been.”

“State educators worry that even more will be left behind now that schools are using the Common Core curriculum that expects kindergarteners to know how to count to 100, write the numerals to 20 and write sentences by the end of the year.”

Absenteeism leads to lost instructional time and less state aid. Failure in kindergarten leads to failure in first grade. Failure in first grade leads to failure in every subsequent grade.

Have we lost our minds?