This post appeared in a New York Times blog. My comment is as follows:
The situation described in this article is quite disturbing, not just because if involves a preschooler, but because it highlights the fear parents feel dealing with the school. And while the pre-school’s parent who finally spoke up got an understanding response from the teacher, that won't be the case in the later years. As Alfie Kohn says, we require too much of a bad thing. Yet, for many kids, they manage that bad thing and their parents accept it as part of school. Why would teachers give it, if it wasn't really needed? But for other children, the demand is a nightmare, and their parents, unfortunately, have no option but to talk with the school, and it's always as the one with the "problem child," along with the implicit message that if the parent did better, the child would succeed. This is nonsense and it is dangerous because countless children and their parents get trapped in a system that does them great harm. They may not be vying for placement in the top schools, but they are ordinary, average kids who want to behave, and (although their teachers overlook this), are quite motivated learn. In the end, parents need the authority to make decisions, including the right to overrule teachers when homework difficulties arise. I feel sorry for these preschoolers. But it's what happens later on that worries me the most.