06 March 2009

As Promised: Private School Drama Part 2

I really appreciate all your comments on the post On Being Judged. I did, however, notice a lack of posts from people FROM Montgomery, and I find that very interesting seeing as Montgomery has my second largest readership by city according to Google Analytics. With that said, I'd love to hear from you guys (even if you've never commented before, ESPECIALLY if you've never commented before, or email me: agzaremba {at} gmail {dot} com ). I realize that many of you don't comment, especially when I'm talking smack about your home city, but everyone is entitled to an opinion - this blog being mine. I am very open to listening to other's thoughts/concerns/comments and even their judgements of me. In other words: Bring it.

One of the more interesting points brought to our attention by the Lady Who Judged was that we could hold Conner back. Oh, but let me use her words verbatim "For academic, social or ATHLETIC reasons" we can choose to hold our son back.

Oh, yes. You read that correctly.

She admitted that this concept was "unique" to Montgomery... see... SHE SAID IT, NOT ME! And she laughed! She giggled about how it wouldn't be even remotely acceptable to do this in other school systems, but how since this was private school and a small town, they allowed it as a common practice. COMMON PRACTICE.

COMMON! PRACTICE! to hold children back although they pass a mandatory academic evaluation and are cleared (by the administration and teacher) to be socially ready to take on Big Kid School, BOYS are held back if they are smaller. 

Now, I won't say that Michael wasn't BEAMING when he heard this: the opportunity for his boys to be bigger, faster and stronger in their athletic field of choice (read: chess?) simply because they were older after being held back. I must note that he did have his reservations about it though. He said he'd never consider it if both academic and social evaluations cleared him to advance grade levels.

In some defense to the shear Craziness of this idea, Conner is, and will probably always be, the youngest and therefore smallest in his class. I don't care to disclose Conner's "issues" on The Internets (at least not yet), but for the most part  it's this: 6 months younger than many of his classmates makes a huge difference. He is "less mature" and it takes time to learn "people skills" (i.e. - sitting in a chair, standing in line, raising your hand, asking to pee, etc). He didn't speak a single word aloud to his teacher till January, and continues to lack in the "being able to talk to anyone other than his family" arena. Conner's caught up a bit now, but he is still "behind" compared to his other classmates. 

This learning curve will shorten, but he'd still graduate as a 17-year-old and enter college barely 18.

So, for  social reasons we might just do 2 years of Kindergarten (1 at Frazer and 1 at Overly Priced Private Institution of Our Choosing) - although, academically he shines at school.

But back to my previous point - I emailed a friend in the Jefferson County School District and, without overstating it, she was APPALLED. This would never be acceptable. Being held back because they are clearly not to a certain academic level, are not socially ready to take on certain aspects of school, or even simply - the parents and educators feel the child is unable to handle the emotional strain - all reasons to hold back a child between Pre3 and 1st/2nd grade. 



For my out-of-state/other school districts/those with opinions and no children readers... do you find this bizarre? They hold BOYS back for this, not girls. Did I mention that? If it's the "norm", would you consider it? Can you EVEN BELIEVE IT'S THE NORM?

I want opinions people, comment!


  1. Okay, I have to admit that I was suprised that she came out and said that, but to be frank I am not suprised that it happens. I went to a private Christian school from k-12 in Montgomery (I am curious if it is the same you are looking into). I was also in athletics... VERY much into athletics and as much as I hate to admit... it definitely happens, regularly. I guess some people look at it as staying in college one more year to keep grades up (they are staying in school one more year to be better prepared for a future in athletics). If you have any questions I would love to share with you my wealth of knowledge on athletics, private and christian schools in Montgomery. My email is abby.orr@gmail.com!

  2. Sorry for the typos! I obviously can't spell today!

  3. Abby - I am just as shocked that she came right out with it too! I mean, lots of schools have things they do to bend rules, etc, but heck, she should consider just slapping that one on the front of their Information Packages!

    I get that they do this and all, but I don't think it's comparable to colleges. Once you are dealing with staying an extra year in college for athletics, the student is an adult, can actually take extra classes to further their knowledge and are able to make that decision on their own as an adult.

    To do this at such an early age is a huge concern. Conner wouldn't benefit academically, if anything, from experience I know that children who get "bored" academically act out and become uninterested in the curriculum. A bored 1st grader is a recipe for failure.

    It very well could be the same school, but this woman told me that almost all private schools (and some public!) do this in the greater Montgomery area.

    I'm just stunned.

  4. What's next? My kid is a sasquatch, should he start kindergarten now just because he's physically big enough???

    It seems like one of those situations where a "monopoly" has gotten out of control. The private schools have monopolized hte school system in the area... and no they're creating their own definition of academic standards based on athleticism???

  5. As far as his age, anyway...his birthday's only four days later in the year than mine, and although I was (ah, that past tense, hah) a great big geek, I managed.
    Maybe it's different for boys, but my dad was born at the end of September, and then that was the last possible day for a birthday to fall on and still start school that year. So he turned 18 the September after he graduated high school.
    Daniel was the same way (late July birthday), and I just asked him, and he said he doesn't remember it ever being an issue. So all other things being equal, don't let the six months be a problem unless you really think it already is for Conner.
    I heard someone once refer to this as "redshirting" kids for kindergarten. I thought it was funny.

  6. This isn't just a Montgomery thing. People do it everywhere, and not just in private schools. I'm not saying it's right, but it's definately done.

  7. Christina - I had never thought of it as a monopoly before, but MAN - that hits the nail on the head! That's exactly what's going on here...

    And you are right, on the other side of the coin, does a larger 5 YEAR OLD start Kindergarten early, even if he doesn't have his academic and social skills up to par? (Not that your child isn't, this is hypothetical). That would be precisely what they are hinting (NOT EVEN HINTING!) at ... that academic and social readiness is on the same playing field with athletic opportunities and edge? WHAT?

    Sara - Conner being young has never really bothered me that much. Christina L. was always the youngest in our class (or younger anyways) and it really didn't seem to cause her to much grief (so she says... ;-)...).
    Bottom line is that I want Conner to be ACADEMICALLY ready and socially ABLE to take on Big Kid School. Being held back so he's faster, taller and stronger goes against the main principles of most academic institutions - the PURPOSE of school is to further their MINDS, not their batting average...

    The consequences of having a child BORED academically far outweigh the "drawbacks" of not being the best offensive linemen (in my book, at least).

    Jamey - It might not be a "Montgomery" thing, but do be completely honest:
    1) Those were the words STRAIGHT from the school's representative. Word. For. Word. "In Montgomery, *giggle* we hold boys back...."
    2) In my craziness over the situation (ok, I'm not loosing sleep or anything, just shooting out a few emails to some teacher friends and the like...), I've probably heard from about 8 different people. Now, 5 of those are from the Jefferson County/Shelby County/City Schools in Birmingham suburbs areas, but the others were from Florida, Ohio and Georgia.

    These early ed, middle and high school teachers and coaches all seem to have the same reaction - Holding an academically sound (if not excelling) and socially ready child back IN PRESCHOOL, KINDERGARTEN, 1st or 2nd GRADE is not common practice. Some varied on opinion as to whether it does actually happen in their school district, but if it does, it is typically because the child is "borderline" in the academic and social areas. Therefore, holding them back because they are doing well, but could be doing better AND younger and smaller would be acceptable.

    A family member of mine is a 6A (championship title winning) football coach and a Christian. I know for certain that this type of "redshirting 4-year-olds" would not be acceptable practice in his school district. I don't find it acceptable either.

  8. WOW! Lots of comments on this post! haha...I just wanted to say that I think holding back a child for athletic reasons is COMPLETELY BIZARRE!! I do know that it happens...and do know that is pretty "common" in Montgomery...Sad to say, but it's true. I could never imagine holding my child back just so that he could excel in football. and to think, he might not even WANT to play sports...he might rather design the interior of our newly built home! haha you NEVER know, Amanda! I'm just sayin...that to hold a child back so he could be a POTENTIAL football star is RE-DIC-YOU-LOUS!!!!

  9. That's one of my points too Rachel, holding him back and risking his academic accomplishments so that he MIGHT sign up for football, and MAY or MAY NOT suck at it, (or even LIKE IT) are NOT REASONS to hold a child back.

    And while we are on it, let's play the sexist card. Doesn't being a taller girl make you more likely to be a better basketball player? Why is it that BOYS are held back for the CHANCE that they may CHOOSE to play sports, but girls are sent on their way to stay on-track academically? (AS THEY SHOULD)

    Again, I can't stress how important it is for your child to stay interested in school. If they are repeating subjects/topics/material, then the likelihood that they will become bored and uninterested is HIGH. A disinterested child makes for a disruptive child.

    Challenging children should be the norm, not holding them back for a potential advantage in a recreational sport.

  10. So I was one of the youngest in our grade,graduated at 17, and was at college for my 18th. I also received an athletic scholarship. So apparently it doesn't matter if your child is good to begin with colleges will make you as big as they want to. But to say to you hey why don't you hold your kid back so he can be a stellar athlete is insane! As Far as size goes my son should start K5 at 3 because he is 3 months and is wearing 12 month clothes. So whatever! I also can see a child acting out when they get bored, I was crazy in college because I thought Snead State was a JOKE!

  11. It does happen. Here and in other places. Just remember, though, the fact that one lady from one school said that to you. It's not necessarily how it is at every other private school in Montgomery. I went to the same private school as Abby (comment above) and I'm positive they didn't do it when I was there and doubt that they do it now. Every boy in my grade there was either my age or younger, having skipped a grade. I hope it's not the school you were looking into, because that would totally just prove me wrong. I don't think it is.

    Anyways, what I'm saying is don't give up hope, and take a look at other schools if you haven't already.


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