I don't know how old you are Commonsense (although your comment doesn't show a lot of this) but I started Kindergarten in 1958. All I remember from Kindergarten is painting and having a snack of graham crackers and milk. I have my class photos from 1st through 3rd grades; we had 29, 23 and 21 students and no assistant (even my mom, who went to a one room schoolhouse, didn't have 40 and 50 kids in class).
What we also didn't have was No Child Left Behind and modern day courses of study that require children to begin reading in Kindergarten.
Here's some other stuff we didn't have: video games, cell phones, mp3 players, cable/satellite tv and televisions in children's bedrooms. We were lucky to have one television and we only received the local network stations.
Here's what we did have: plenty of time to play outside and parents who read to us. We roamed around the neighborhood and town freely and if we misbehaved someone called our parents and told them. And guess what, our parents got upset with us, NOT the neighbor who called them.
I am a teacher with more than a dozen years experience and a master's degree. I teach Pre-K (which by the way, is almost certain to be eliminated for next year). Most of my students are poor, many of their parents have lower levels of education, the majority of them are minority and many do not speak English as a first language. Most of them arrive in my classroom not even knowing colors, much less letters, numbers or any of myriad things they need to know before Kindergarten.
Bottom line: children are coming to school less prepared and are expected to know much, much more than even a few years ago. There is no way to keep the bar at the same level, much less raise it without assistants.
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