The Tribe of Babas

Vincent Avatar

There was a rally in front of my children’s school. Many children (despite having gone through a lottery and been placed in a Pre-K class at a school) are being told they can no longer attend that same school for kindergarten.

It would be easy enough to tell my son that the DOE was run by an inbred tribe of brainless babas who would without conscience or hesitation brutally rip a child from the warmth of his nurturing environment and cast him aside until convenience served their needs.

It would be so easy to string together the most demeaning insults to be compiled from the last decade of SAT vocabulary tests and condemn the NYC DOE with scathing poesy – But what good would it do?

I want to say that the number one rule in the art of the insult is to insure that the object of your affront understands enough to be insulted. However, I don’t. Instead I tell my son what I always tell him when things don’t make sense. I tell him that sometimes people do bad things thinking they are doing good things. And they do this not out of a lack of concern but out of ignorance or ego.

When my eldest completed Pre-K he was threatened with expulsion. Not for an infraction on his part or a punishment meted out by his school’s administration. But because his attendance at the school inconvenienced the DOE. The DOE decided to centralize admissions with kindergarten as the entry point to a school. Regardless of my son’s performance and socialization at the school, he would be treated as if he had no relationship to the school. He would be expelled from the school and forced to re-enter the lottery system that had originally placed him there.

I am still unclear as to why the DOE would subject a child and his family to this stress. I know the word “equity” has been bandied around. The word “equity” is always bandied around when a government agency wants to make inconvenient changes. It is the wave of a magic wand by government to cast a spell of complacency on their public. However, the wand is only so powerful and the public (rightfully so) is particularly protective of their youngest members.

I don’t think there are many who will contest the positive impact of Pre-K experiences on preparedness for future school academics and associated social involvement. In fact the current debate is not on the merits of Pre-K but on the overburdening of first school experiences with academics. With this stated why would the DOE jeopardize a child’s educational success by eliminating Pre-K programs? Or subjecting him to the stress of a move? There have been studies done on the negative impact of relocation on student academic performance.

With the national push towards Universal Pre-K and growing documentation of the positive impact it has on student academic performance, why isn’t Pre-K the point of entry into public schools? How is it equitable to bar a child from returning to the school where he began his academic life?

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