Thank you, David. In only 20 years or so Tennessee has gone from half-day kindergarten-optional for public school students to expecting children to be reading when they finish kindergarten. Follow the money; it leads straight to the major corporations producing standardized tests, test preparation materials, practice tests, reading intervention programs and more. I was present for a keynote address by Alfie Kohn at a literacy conference several years ago; the audience of teachers was nodding in agreement with his every word from start to finish. His beliefs about the necessity of internal motivation for learning should be heeded by policy makers; until that day, we'll continue on the path you've described.
Interesting perspective, rdecredico. I've know the Kennedy family for years now, since The Boy was an infant. In my professional life I'm privy to a lot of families' dynamics, and I'd be hard-pressed to find more loving, involved, or conscientious parents than Mark and his wife or more loved and well-nurtured children than The Boy and his little brother. "Dysfunctional" and "myopic"? Hardly. Committed to parenting and doing it well? Absolutely. And able to write about it with humor and discretion? Uh, yeah. Try not to be so...literal and judgmental and a bit more "insightful."