Are 19-Year-Old Seniors All That Common?

All the talk about Ryan Romo being almost 19 years old got me thinking about something that’s been nagging at me since I took this job a little more than four years ago. It’s this suburban legend about Park Cities families giving their sons a “redshirt” year (presumably before kindergarten) so they’ll be more mature as high school athletes.

I have no idea whether this actually goes on. To quantify it, you’d need the birth dates of all Highland Park High School students for a certain number of years, so you could compare the average ages of male and female graduates. Then, to figure out if this is truly a Park Cities phenomenon, you’d need the same data from a few nearby public high schools where sports aren’t emphasized nearly as much (Hillcrest and Woodrow, for example). It also wouldn’t hurt to compare the HP data to that of another football-crazed, single-high-school district — say, Southlake Carroll.

Now, I highly doubt I’d be able to obtain such data from HPISD or any other school districts. But there are several former Scots whose dates of birth are publicly available. Let’s take a look.

I found only one recent Highland Park athlete who was 19 for a significant portion of his senior year: McMurry quarterback Tyler Rentfro turned 19 last February, three months before he graduated.

Former Ohio State and Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Anthony Schlegel turned 19 in March of his senior year (1999-2000). Former Mets pitcher Chris Young and Dartmouth lacrosse player Patrick Campbell both turned 19 in May of their senior years (1997-98 and 2010-11, respectively).

The rest of the players whose birth dates I was able to find all turned 19 after graduating from Highland Park:

Duke lacrosse player Chris Hipps turned 18 in September of his senior year (2009-10).

Rutgers lacrosse player Campbell Sode turned 18 in October of his senior year (2010-11).

Former Baylor and Pittsburgh Steelers punter Daniel Sepulveda turned 18 in January of his senior year (2001-02).

Duke offensive lineman Tanner Stone turned 18 in March of his senior year (2011-12).

As for the biggest names on the market, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw turned 18 in February and March, respectively, of their senior year (2005-06).

So what does all of this tell us? Well, if those last two studs were able to achieve so much success while receiving their high school diplomas at the age of 18, it tells me I don’t need to wait until the 4-year-old athlete in my house turns 6 to enroll him in kindergarten.

By Dan Koller Nov. 5, 2012 | 7:53 am | 71 Comments | Comments RSS
71 comments to "Are 19-Year-Old Seniors All That Common?"
  1. sls @ November 5, 2012 at 8:25 am
    Dan , you may have opened a “can of worms” with this one! I know folks have strong opinions about starting their kids in school. The practice of starting boys in kindergarten at six is acceptable and pretty common in many parts of the country. (We have lived in CA, OH, & TX.) The reason given is that the boy is not socially ready for school and needs to be a little older. Most children just need to be given the chance to get in the classroom and they do fine. Perhaps it is the parents who are not ready to have the child start school rather than the child not being ready. It must be challenging for teachers to deal with a wider range of ages in the classroom. I wonder if it would be better to start all children in kindergarten at 5 years (with a flexible cut off of up to, say, September 15th). If, after that first year, the child is not ready to move on socially or academically, the child would repeat kindergarten.

  2. XT @ November 5, 2012 at 8:30 am
    Of course it’s not an HP specific issue, nor is it a Texas issue. And to blanket it as a sports issue is wrong also. Sometimes its specific to a child within a family. My daughter is the youngest in her class, while my son”stayed back” a year when we moved, because he was not as developed emotionally or as mature as his peers. He is an average student and athlete, and holding him back didn’t change that. I did make him more in line in terms of maturity with his peers, and allowed him to adjust socially to the move.

    That being said, I have seen kids held back who are superior athletes and dominate their younger peers. And no, it doesn’t feel good to watch. And while I hope that the parents aren’t doing that just for sports, I’m sure it happens.

  3. Moe Skeedo @ November 5, 2012 at 10:04 am
    agree that its not a texas only situation – usatoday did an article earlier in the year about holding back the start of kindergarten. Also agree that it should really vary based on the kid themselves – even in a family each kid might or might not be ready to start at 5 – especially if they are a young five in class with 6 year olds. It seems that girls are a bit more mature than their same aged boy peers and this continues well into old age :-)

  4. HP Observer @ November 5, 2012 at 10:15 am
    I know a lot of parents in the Dallas area, not just HPISD, who have done that with boys and girls when they were in kindergarten/first grade. Had nothing to do with athletics later on. Mostly had to do with giving their kids that little extra push to succeed. There’s been enough so that I’ve commented on how many 19-year-old seniors there are going to be in a few years. I assumed it was a recent phenomenon. Apparently not.

  5. cj @ November 5, 2012 at 11:08 am
    Very common. The private schools around DFW do a great job talking with parents about the academic/social/emotional maturity of EACH child moving from the preschool years into K and 1st. Most decisions are based on these criteria. I’m sure some parents are also thinking about sports later on, especially with boys.

  6. 1Zima2Many @ November 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm
    The schools need to get out in front of this problem. Right now, as far as I can tell, there are no rules or limits regarding holding kids back. From my observation, more often than not, parents’ decisions to hold their kids back is based on little more than not wanting their child to be the youngest in the class (although I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think success in sports is not a factor – at least for parents of boys). Someone has to be the youngest and the practice is just progressively shifting that line further and further back – to a ridiculous degree. My son is a May birthday and he’s the second youngest kid (out of 13 kids) on his baseball team. Several of the kids are almost a full year older than him.

    Obviously there will be situations where a child truly needs another year to develop, but that should be the exception, not the rule that is decided by the whim of over-protective, type-A parents.

    The schools should establish a specific cutoff date for birthdays and kids should be required to start kindergarten if they’re school-age by that date. They could then put in place a review board made up of qualified people (educators, child psychologists, etc.) who could evaluate special requests from parents to delay their child’s start date by a year based on truly special circumstances.

    I can’t wait to see the responses from parents to the effect of “No one has the right to tell me what’s best for my child!” Well, schools do that all the time when it comes to all other aspects of education (grades, curriculum, discipline, school hours, etc.). There should be some structure around the appropriate time to start school as well.

    Otherwise, in 10 years we’ll be talking about whether it’s okay to have 20-year-old high school seniors.

  7. MIS Dad @ November 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm
    Of course, many people hold back their kids (especially boys) for sports (and many other) reasons. But the athletic benefits are limited, I think, to scholastic sports. For competetive soccer (August 1), hockey (January 1), and track and field (January 1) programs, there are birthdate requirements, not grade requirements. I would have assumed that baseball would have been the same.

  8. A. B. @ November 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm
    When I was pregnant with my first son (a July baby) people were asking me if I was going to hold him back. I had no idea what they were talking about at the time. And he wasn’t even born yet so it didn’t seem to be a pressing decision. We ended up sending him on and he is at least a year younger than several children in his class. A few years later we held back our second July boy at the recommendation of preschool teachers and after seeing how many people do it. Yes, I’m one of *those* sheeple.

    I’m with 1Zima2Many. If HPISD would take a stand and set a date that no one could cross then this would be solved. I know there are kids with January birthdays who are being held back. In a few years the calendar is going to get so backward that kids will be 7 before starting Kindergarten because no one wants their child to be the youngest in the class.

    Funny thing is, when I was starting school my parents wanted to push me ahead and had to meet with the principal in order to make that happen. I have always been the youngest (November birthday). Bet you don’t see that happen nowadays.

  9. E @ November 5, 2012 at 1:54 pm
    When I was a kid I turned 5 in August and started kindergarten a few weeks later! When my child was in kindergarten, he was going to birthday parties in the late fall and January and I thought these boys were turning 6 … they were turning 7 IN KINDERGARTEN!!! Do the math on that. My kid is a late August birthday and the last child. We were not going to hold him back until we realized most of the kids he would enter kinder with were 12 to 18 months older than him. Even though he was much younger, he was still one of the tallest so we didn’t base our decision on size! It turned out to be the right decision maturity wise. But, as a late August birthday, there are not many kids younger than him. And it’s getting worse. Most of the kids in the grade behind him are older than the kids in his grade …. just crazy! But then again, he is older than some kids in the grade above! It has definitely gotten out of hand in HPISD! There are literally kids in 5th grade who could be in 7th. There was a kid who turned 15 in the fall of my child’s 8th grade year. No joke, he had a learners permit!

  10. DallasMom @ November 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm
    Look upstream from the 19yo seniors and you’ll see 15yo 8th graders. It is a bit unnerving to see 15 year olds with their driving permit pulling up in the carpool lines at school with their parents in the passenger seat.

  11. formerhpstudent @ November 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm
    Summer children aren’t an issue in my experience. I was a solid December baby so right in the middle. Having someone with a July birthday who was older than me was no different than July birthdays that were a year younger. It’s when we get into the middle of the year birthdays, like Ryan’s November that parents are trying to hard to give their child an advantage. I understand extreme cases when children are below the average maturity age, but I can’t see a few months making that much of a difference in how well someone succeeds academically or athletically. MIS Dad is correct with how club sports work since you do have to be under a certain age (like a U16) team to play on the team. But I could see that helping if kids are playing with people a grade older when they’re outside of school then the competition is better and they’ll have more success for school teams.

  12. Old Man @ November 5, 2012 at 3:12 pm
    @1Zima2Many –

    Is there really a problem? My oldest son who is now in his 20s was an April birthday. His church school kindergarten teacher recommended that he spend a year in Primer because he would be one of the youngest boys in his grade in HPISD. My wife and I (both HP graduates) were appalled at the idea at the time.

    We did not hold him back and he went through HP, was on a state championship athletic team and went to UT and turned out great. The quarterback of the HP team his senior year (a classmate of his) was EIGHTEEN months older and his family was notorious for holding their kids back – mostly for athletic reasons. But I don’t remember anyone pitching a fit and they were really good kids.

    For UIL sports there are age restrictions so you will not see the 20 year-old high school QB or pitcher. The club sports also have restrictions, but they are not under UIL perview.

    In comparison, our youngest (Spring birthday) was held back. Not for athletic reasons (unless I can still bask in the glory that he was the biggest first grader in his elementary school) but for maturity and emotional ones. Fast forward a few years and he is average size and average athletic ability. He is a year older than most of his friends, and when they split up teams based on age and not grade there are just a handful of kids that “age up”.

    There is no hornet’s nest here – the athletes cited in the article are the exception not the rule. I think if you asked every parent who held their kid back I think you would find that most would say 1) it was for a reason other than athletics and 2) if they didn’t feel that they would have to do it, they wouldn’t.

    I think everyone on here is making much doo-doo about nothing.

  13. db @ November 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm
    i think that 19 year old is to old to be getting out of high school .

  14. LL @ November 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm
    I agree with db-they should be 18 when they graduate unless they have a learning issue.

  15. hhhh @ November 5, 2012 at 6:06 pm
    How about you stop writting about ryan romo? Give the kid a break.

  16. XT @ November 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm
    @ db/LL,


  17. Neal @ November 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm
    WFAA is reporting “up to 31 students” from HPHS have been suspended as a result of what happened at the Palladium Ballroom. Football players, cheerleaders and drill team members, again according to WFAA.

    Did you guys get scooped?

  18. Old Man @ November 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm
    @db – it is really hard to take a comment seriously when it has spelling and grammar errors and no foundation for its premise.

    Tell us why you think “19 year old is to old” for high school. My son will graduate from Highland Park at the age of nineteen and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

    By the time they reach high school, there usually isn’t a lot of difference between a seventeen, eighteen or nineteen year-old student.

    I am curious why you should care.

  19. Neal @ November 5, 2012 at 6:56 pm
  20. Tennis Curious @ November 5, 2012 at 6:58 pm
    The tennis team just won state. How many of the players who participated are seniors? Any 19 year olds?

  21. SDM @ November 5, 2012 at 8:16 pm
    I went to private school and attended HPPC for kindergarten. My parents sent me to pre-primary and I turned 18 the first week of my Sr year, it was not for athletic reasons. If I had been born earlier in the year than my parents would not have sent me to pre-primary and I would have turned 18 in the spring of my Sr year. I think for most families it has to do with what half of the year you are born in but this sounds a little odd. I think we had 2 people out of 86 that turned 19 before graduation, one was Dec the other was March. So not very common.

  22. Z @ November 5, 2012 at 9:11 pm
    Old Man, your logic is poor. This is indeed a real issue. Anyone can cherry-pick micro examples that reflect no problem. The problem is apparent only in the macro. That problem being, if you’re a parent who’s trying to do things “normally,” you’re increasingly finding that your child will be at a disadvantage, because of the slippery slope. Sounds like it may have been more of a rarity in your day, but as some of the commenters above have indicated, and as I too can testify, this is something Park Cities folks start to ask you while your child is still in the womb these days. Holding kids back is no longer reserved as an option to be exercised in exceptional cases. It’s the new default norm. That’s the problem. And HPISD could eliminate the problem relatively simply, if it would just admit the problem exists.

  23. peter griffin @ November 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm
    for pete’s sake, this is nothing new.
    the root of the scots’ 1945 state football championship
    was a loss deep in the 1944 playoffs.
    back then, there was no limit to eligibility,
    so some of the team’s senior flunked courses
    in the spring of 1945 so they could back
    and win it all that fall.

  24. Ps @ November 5, 2012 at 11:08 pm
    Did any of y’all read the original research that started this discussion?
    How does any parent know when their child is four or five that they need to be “held back” because they’ll “certainly” be a star athlete in 12 or 13 years ?!? How many professional players in any sport graduated from HP? We are all happy for those kids who succeed in any area; however, I challenge anyone to name even ten or even five families that they know FOR A FACT made the decision of when to start first grade or kindergarten based on perceived future athleticism. Maybe the child had dyslexia or some other learning issue?

  25. callie @ November 6, 2012 at 5:57 am
    @old man, you are incorrect about UIL and age requirements, from UIL website…”initially enrolled in the ninth grade not more than four years ago nor in the tenth grade not more than three years ago”. UIL does not address AGE whatsoever. Texas allows 26 year olds to attend high school so it is possible to have 26 year old player that started 9th grade as a 22 year old!
    These hold backs are a huge issue. What about academics? How fair is it to have a 10 and 12 year old take the same test and be judged based on results? Its not at all fair. A few years ago the state proposed moving birthday cut offdate back to May. The result would have been a huge winfall of $$ for state, however short changing schools. RIght now are schools are about numbers, pack in as many as possible to get the $$. THey have the same expenses if they have 18 in a class room or 25 but much higher revenue with the 25. ITS ABOUT $$.

  26. Rules Committee @ November 6, 2012 at 8:40 am
    The UIL specifically address participation of 19 year old in their rules. See section 445 and 446:

  27. A. B. @ November 6, 2012 at 8:43 am
    Z has it right.

    Freakonomics has covered this somewhat. Sounds as if a lot of HP parents are worried about “The Disadvantage of Summer Babies” so have started turning it into the Disadvantage of Spring Babies; then Winter; then Fall as we all begin sending our kids in Kindergarten much later than we used to.

    and more sports-centric:

    Love the last paragraph of the second example. Makes me wonder…

  28. Speculation @ November 6, 2012 at 10:13 am
    Facts people….not generalizations. I agree with Ps, name specific examples or back it up with statistics of the overall student body by grade and age, then student body athletes by grade, age and sport and finally how many of those are ‘star’ athletes. I think you will find that it is not as pervasive as you think. Yes there may be an example of where holding back a kid gave them advantage for the sport, but being older, bigger/stronger does not always mean you will be the better athlete on the field or court.

  29. LL @ November 6, 2012 at 10:13 am
    @XT-if you ask “why?”-I can only assume you were a 19 year old senior (learning issues).

  30. 1Zima2Many @ November 6, 2012 at 10:46 am
    Reasonable minds can differ about whether it’s right or wrong, etc., but there’s no question it’s become pervasive in HP schools. My son has played on 3 baseball teams that, at one point or another, handed out roster info that included player birthdays. The teams are organized by grade, not age (but the league has age cutoffs). On all three teams, my son – a May birthday – was either the youngest or second-youngest out of 13 kids.

  31. XT @ November 6, 2012 at 10:51 am
    @ LL,

    Nope, graduated HS at 18, college at 22, and received my MBA at 27. And even if I had graduated at 19, your answer says more about you than it does about me.

    All I’ve seen so far is anectdotes and feelings, waiting for some facts to determine why it matters. Outliers speaks to elite athletes, as well as how impactful a difference in age makes when you’re young relative to your peers. Their recommendation, by the way, was to break down classes by traunches of birthdays, rather than just randomly. Everyone keeps talking about what’s fair, short of that type of change, the system is still unfair. Using a Sept 1 guideline, a child born on August 31 will be 364 days older than a child born on Sept 1. Luck of the draw seems pretty unfair to the Sept 1 child.

  32. Old Man @ November 6, 2012 at 11:45 am
    @Callie – You are dead wrong. Look at the link provided by Rules Committee. Go to the .pdf provided and read Section 440 (c) –
    Eligibility – Athletics and tell me how I was incorrect. Again, if you are 19 or older on September 1 of the school year, YOU CANT COMPETE IN UIL SPORTS (with one exception about disabilities found in Section 446). It looks like your 26 year-old student could sing in a Choir competition or be in a Academic Decathalon, but no sports for him. And isn’t that what is original point of the article was, holding back for athletics?

    @Z – I stand by my logic. I have a holdback at HPMS and I would say there are only a handful of kids that I know in the same position. To say it is the norm is laughable and I am willing to wager a donation to Mad For Plaid that if we picked a grade and a random group of 25 kids from each elementary school, the holdbacks would be a miniscule part of the sampling. I will be the first to admit I have done zero research on this except what I know in my child’s grade and, again, I am focusing on the athletic side of participation (like any good HP dad would – haha).

  33. cynthia @ November 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm
    I was surprised to learn that sometimes families hold back children for athletic advantage and have them do 8th grade a couple of times. Since the sport is not a school sport, they are able to play as 8th graders for HP last year and this year.

  34. GoArmy @ November 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm
    Couples should plan for their children to be born in the months of August – December. More whoopy around Christmas! This will take a bite out of this social dilemma for the next generation.

  35. Hxt @ November 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm
    I have issue with redshirting and then putting that same redshirted kid in Tag or AP courses – its a double standard. Should require a waiver – if they are capable of doing grade level work, then back to normal grade! (not talking about cusp babies or true Learning differences
    – but spring/winter/fall)

  36. MGBHStar @ November 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm
    Life is not fair and you can’t choose your birth date. It’s up to the parents to decide if their child is ready for school at age 4, 5 or 6. Looking back to when HP didn’t have full day kindergarten, we chose to put our kids in private full-day kindergarten so they were ready for 1st grade at age 6. Other parents we knew took another approach and waited an extra year before starting their kids in 1st grade. Even others waited until their kid was in 4th grade before deciding to hold them back. My kid’s birthdays are scattered throughout the school year ranging from October to June. All started school at 5 yrs old. One who had early in the school-year b-day probably could have benefited, both academically and athletically, from starting later, but still managed to graduate from college in 3 yrs. Likewise, the one with a June birthday was ready to go at age 4, but we waited and is still one of the youngest in the class.

  37. SummerBabyMama @ November 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm
    I have two “summer babies” in HP schools who started in private school. Half of my June daughter’s pre-K class was held back based on teacher recommendations, but she moved forward. She is now one of the youngest kids in 11th grade at HP. She does very well academically and in her chosen extracurricular, but doesn’t like being so much younger (especially when it came to driving).

    My son is a late August birthday, so we did an extra year of pre-K and started him in Kinder right after he turned 6. He is, by the way, not even CLOSE to the oldest kid in his grade, and I would say a large number of spring/summer boys in his grade are hold backs. I don’t know any of their parents who did it for athletics, and any minor benefit they may get in elementary school from being older/bigger evens out by 8th grade (hello puberty!). We made our choice based on relative age, maturity, and academic readiness, and I wouldn’t change a thing. He is an average student and an above average athlete, but I would (shocker) flip those if possible. I do hate the idea of 19 year old seniors at the same school with my (then) young 14 year old freshman daughter, but she wasn’t allowed to date them or go to parties at that age anyway. I don’t think it’s an epidemic, but IS a growing trend at HP and area private schools.

  38. CP @ November 7, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Once again they are held back for sports. I love the quotes of current HPers who say they held back their boys but it was not for sports. You are a fake liar, but hey were talking about Highland Park people here. The fact that you compare your situation to ESD and St. Marks just shows that you really know very few people outside of the bubble. Yes, it happens at other schools but at a much lower rate. Please refrain from asking for hard data, every parent that has kids in HPISD knows this is an issue. The ones that say it is not an issue are the liars who hold their boys back and say it was not for sports

    Also, for those who say that after the 8th grade it does not matter since all ages are equal that is just flat out dumb. If that were the case then schedule a scrimmage between the HP JV and the Varsity. It should be an even match because there is no advantage by being older.

    The best way to solve this would be for some responsible parents to have their 15yr old daughters file statutory rape charges. Good luck defending your 19 yr old in court. The fact that high school boys now have to think about this is sad. It is much easier to prosecute 15 vs 19 then 15 vs 18.

  39. E @ November 7, 2012 at 10:35 am
    @old man I have kids at the high school and middle school and I agree with you regarding not that many hold backs at their age. But, I also have my sweet (late in life) elementary school student and it is totally different! Most of the boys in his grade could technically be in the grade above … and that goes for every other grade at his elementary, too. Not always, but often, you can tell the younger kids who are the true age for their grade. I hear lots of parents saying “if I had it to do over again …or ” I didn’t realize” etc. especially with oldest boys. But, if everyone is holding back … no one is getting a perceived “advantage.”

  40. Parkie @ November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm
    Greenhill has the “primer” year specifically for kids whose birthdays are between March 1 and August 31.

    From their website:
    “Primer benefits some children as a social/emotional/intellectual bridge between kindergarten and 1st grade. This year allows a child to mature at his/her natural pace while continuing to progress academically. You cannot apply to Primer. Your child must apply to 1st grade and be recommended for Primer by the Admission Committee.”

    Our son’s birthday is late August, and his pre-school strongly encouraged us to hold him back because of delayed development issues. BEST decision we ever made. It had absolutely nothing to do with athletics. He didn’t learn to read until halfway through first grade, and could barely tie his shoes until middle school.

  41. AP @ November 7, 2012 at 2:34 pm
    I agree with Z. It is definitely pervasive, with boys anyway, at HPMS. I have boys with May birthdays and they have each experienced being the youngest child in their class. The handful of children they know with birthdays in April, May or June are all 1 full year older than they are. I was at a recent mom’s event where the topic of conversation was registering for driver’s ed this summer. These moms had kids in 8th grade who are turning 15. My 8th grader is not even 13.5 yet. When did spring become “cusp” and a reasonable time to hold back? My youngest has a February birthday and there are only a handful of kids younger than he is in his class. The more summer holdbacks, the more spring holdbacks and then all of a sudden you have winter and fall holdbacks. There has been a domino effect in HPISD and the results are evident in the classes. I do not know if a majority holdback, nor do I know if it is often for athletic reasons, but I do know that many, many people holdback and that a common reason given is “not wanting to be the youngest.”

  42. Old Man @ November 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm
    @CP – Worst response so far in this thread. More generalities and stereotyping of the Highland Park parent than any other post and THE DUMBEST “solution” I have ever seen (BTW, it’s than and not then).

    Where to begin? Just four points I want to highlight (but I could go sentence by sentence if necessary).

    1) “You are a fake liar, but hey were talking about Highland Park people here.”

    CP, I am confused. Can you explain to me what exactly is a fake liar? Are all Highland Park parents “fake liars” or just the ones who say that their children were held back at the age of six due to maturity or emotional issues. Or do you think that HP parents are so good at discovering athletic talent that those children have been cherry picked – again, AT AGE 6, and that school is just a bump in the road to untold riches as a professional athlete?

    2) “Please refrain from asking for hard data, every parent that has kids in HPISD knows this is an issue.”

    Oh yes, let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story. I don’t know about you CP, but I always like to have the facts of an issue to make a well-reasoned decision. As my posts above state, I don’t have the birthdates of the HPISD students but I am basing my opinion (yes, it is an opinion) on my life experiences with two children going through the HPISD. I would love to see the data – I could be completely wrong as my sample groups (i.e. my children’s friends) may not be representative of the student body as a whole.
    If I am incorrect in my opinion (there’s that silly word again) then I will be the first to declare that HP is a hotbed of holdbacks.

    I will make the same offer to you as I did to Z above. Put your money where your mouth is and let’s set up a study to see if the holdbacks are as common as you think. Loser makes a donation to “Mad For Plaid”.

    3) “The ones that say it is not an issue are the liars who hold their boys back and say it was not for sports.”

    Once again CP, you haphazardly impugned the integrity of many of the parents on this thread who have opened up and explained the decision-making process that they went through to come to the conclusion that holding their child back was the best thing to do. If you haven’t made this type of decision for your child, how dare you question the motives of parents like me who did hold their children back. It is not an easy choice but a necessary one.

    4) “The best way to solve this would be for some responsible parents to have their 15yr old daughters file statutory rape charges”

    Wow, I am completely speechless. I honestly am not sure where to begin or how to respond. What does this have to do with ANYTHING we have been discussing on this thread? This “solution” has so many other issues irrelevant to the discussion at hand that I could spend the rest of the evening writing about it – but let’s just focus on a holdback example.

    I can see it now – parents of a six year-old son trying to decide whether to send their son to Primer before first grade. “Dear, the teacher, counselor and headmaster have all said that Little Johnny really isn’t ready to go to first grade and that a year of Primer could do wonders.” “No, I am sorry Jane, what if in thirteen years Johnny dates a girl that brings statutory rape or sexual assault charges because her parents didn’t like him and she was under the age of 17?” “Hmmm, I see your point. Let’s just go ahead and put him in first grade – even though every expert says it is a bad idea – and see what happens.” Or something along those lines.

    CP, tell us a little bit about yourself – did you graduate from HP? Do you have kids? Have you or your family experienced the holdback “phenom” to the detriment of you or your family? Why such vitriol against Highland Park and the parents of the school district?

    Your credibility depends on contributing something of value to the conversation. Instead of broad generalities and a not very well thought out solution, how would you look at things if you were in the shoes of any of the parents who have posted their experiences? Let us know how you would handle this situation.

    Oh, and my challenge still stands.

  43. SummerBabyMama @ November 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm
    @CP — I find your insistence on athletics as the only reason people hold their kids back to be strange. How could we possibly have known at age three what type of athletic ability (if any) my son would have? He was born a month early and hence has an August birthday vs. September. His pre-K teachers recommended that we hold him back for maturity and academic reasons, and we agreed. I’m not sure how this makes me a “fake liar.” By the way, we did not live in HPISD at the time and we knew many people “outside the bubble” who were making the same decision about their kids in private schools.

    Regarding your suggestion of a JV/Varsity scrimmage, you do realize that which of those teams a kid plays on is based on ability, right? Juniors and even a few sophomores can make the Varsity team if they are good enough; JV is made up of only sophomores and juniors. I would assume the Varsity team would win that hypothetical scrimmage because they are BETTER, not because they are OLDER. Some kids even play both JV and Varsity, so an even match might be more feasible than you think. I’ve seen many kids who were standouts at young ages due to their age and/or size fade into “average” range as other kids grow and mature and just plain develop better skills.

  44. CP @ November 8, 2012 at 9:03 am
    Old Man,

    You are right. HP has some of the slowest developing boys in the nation that need to be held back because they have trouble learning.

    In response to why I am knocking HP all one needs to do is read the headlines about HP for the past 6 months to know there are some serious issues going on there. You guys are challenging south Dallas for the worst headlines, but I realize that HP is a fact adverse community.

  45. XT @ November 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm
    @ CP,

    I think the real point is not whether or not it is happening JUST in HP, but rather how does HP look compared to the rest of the country. THOSE are the facts that I’m interested in. Anectdotaly, in talking with people I know in other parts of the country, and reading about this issue, it seems to be a trend everywhere.

  46. Old Man @ November 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Hard to have a battle of wits when your opponent is unarmed.

  47. Sammy @ November 9, 2012 at 10:03 am
    @Old Man:
    Wits? Your child will graduate HPHS at 19 and you don’t see that as a problem. Sad but noted.

  48. Parkie @ November 10, 2012 at 9:54 am
    There is something missing from this conversation: cut-off dates. The cut-off dates for starting kindergarten/first grade vary all over the country. Where we used to live, the cut-off was December 31, instead of Sept 1. If your kid turned 6 before January 1, he/she went to first grade in the fall. No one talked about “summer birthdays.” However, things may have changed–it was more than a few years ago.

  49. Avid Reader @ November 10, 2012 at 10:53 am
    Age Discrimination.

  50. Old Man @ November 10, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    First off, have you read this thread at all? Or are you just jumping on the generalization bandwagon and assume that any and all hold backs are done for athletic reasons?

    I do not see having my son graduating at 19 as an issue. Neither does my wife. At the time of his graduation, he will be 19 and less than two months – so if he graduated early in December at age 18, does that change anything in your eyes? Same kid – how would a December graduation be any different?

    And if we think it is ok, why should you care?

    Here is what is sad, Sammy. Sad are people like you, CP, callie and others jumping on issues you are not familiar with and having little, if any, facts to support your positions.

    I am guessing you and your ilk don’t have kids. Because if you did, you would understand that a parent does whatever is best for their children. A decision to hold back is not made without lots of thought and research.

    If you want to tell me what the problem is, please enlighten me. With facts, not opinion. You know what they say about opinions….

    There is nothing sad about the situation – he is happy and so are we.

  51. IJS @ November 10, 2012 at 8:55 pm
    I see a lot of holdbacks, especially in private school. Hockaday has girls that voted this year as juniors. For boys (and girls), a lot of this is more social, meaning how well adjusted a child is. Not everyone can color in the lines or memorize that young. Parents making that call at age 4 or 5 are often dealing with learning difficulties, or even circumstances like divorce or death of a parent. I don’t know anyone who did a holdback for athletics.

    It’s pretty impossible to know if your child will be a standout in a sport when they have barely mastered toilet training.

  52. wondering @ November 10, 2012 at 10:43 pm
    re: Old Man. Does he protest too much? Just kidding, Old Man. Live and let live. Life is short.

  53. sammy @ November 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm
    @Old Man.
    Yes, I have kids and yes i get angry at those that try to game the system. Never knew anyone at HP who graduated in December so not sure about your hypothetical.
    Love the word “ilk” though as it says more than you will ever grasp. I like to play by the rules. Maybe in another 20 years 20 year olds will be seniors because it is best for their kids as you say. What a strange barrier “best for their kids” is.

  54. Ps @ November 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm
    @sammy – wow! Have you ever missed a letter when you were typing. Your comment was cheap and childish

    Here IS a fact about making a decision about a child (boy or girl?) starting school – my son has dyslexia. My mother was suffering with cancer. My son has a mid-June birthday. As it turns out he’s a really good athlete (as much as can be told when a child is in middle school) but I can promise that his possible athleticism or lack thereof was never a consideration.
    @cp and @sammy do you know how hard classes in high school are these days? I guess we should “stick our heads on the sand” and set our kids up for failure or at least a very difficult trail? But you two clearly know better than actual parents of actual kids (sarcasm completely intended)

  55. Ps @ November 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm
    @sammy – you want to grab a pencil so you can write down the initials of a whole bunch of kids who “graduated” in December? what they actually did was move on to college and “graduated” in May with their original classmates. Must be a plot to take over the 4A sports in Texas. What a master plan (sarcasm still intended)

  56. Old Man @ November 11, 2012 at 10:29 pm
    @sammy –

    With all due respect, what irritates me about your response is the accusation that somehow we are gaming the system. Please explain to me how we are doing that. Are we doing anything illegal? How are we not playing by the rules? Should we ignore advice when a recommendation is made from teachers and doctors for my ADHD son that another year in school before first grade would be good for his maturation process?

    Come on sammy, you are painting me with that big broad generalization paintbrush – if you call me a cheat, then tell me why I am a cheater. We play by the rules. And I expect everyone else to do the same.

    If you are angry with me and my “ilk”, let’s set up a discussion – these blogs are the worst forums to discuss what is a very emotional issue.

  57. Old Man @ November 11, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    I am very laid back in real life.
    I just don’t suffer fools gladly.

  58. CP @ November 12, 2012 at 10:48 am
    Thanks for continuing to maintain that athletics plays no part. It makes me feel vindicated for the fake liar comment earlier. I have do have boys and as recently as last year competed in the same district as HP. Our community plays by the rules and our boys are in the grades they should be in. We were all very sick and tired of having to play teams that were always 1 year ahead because you guys cheat.

    In response to Old Man’s weak argument about how would you know if your child were good at sports at 18, most parents have the ability to look ahead and guess that at every single grade their child would have an advantage over others.

    In response to the other comments that age plays no part in a child’s athletic ability I do not know how to respond to that. As many commentators have responded in reference to politics, it is hard to argue with today’s conservatives when you cannot even agree on simple realities. I have 2 sons and every single year they get better. My son actually dominates football at the 7th grade level, and I would be ashamed if I had held him back and put other kids’ safety at risk by playing him at the 6th grade level.

  59. Sammy @ November 12, 2012 at 11:01 am
    I am not talking about learning disabilities for holding one back. Anyone can point to the maturity factor for holding back but most do not. And summer hold backs have nothing on Romo as a November hold back. I have friends who held back Jan-April and questioned that but a November holdback? Just wow.
    Actual stats to back the redshirting story. From this article:

    “Recent studies done on kindergarten redshirting have shown that growing numbers of summer birthday boys are being held back a year before starting kindergarten, especially in white, affluent areas of the country. In Carroll, Texas, a wealthy south Dallas suburb, 158 of 452 kindergarteners were six at the start of the 2007-2008 school year, while 165 of 504 first graders were seven. In Highland Park, Texas, a small city within the city of Dallas, 96 of 452 kindergarteners were six, and 79 of 436 first graders were seven, or eight(!).

    Studies have shown two negatives regarding redshirting kindergarten boys. First, boys who are redshirted don’t perform any better than the average students of the class they join – in other words, they don’t perform as if they’re six, but instead perform like the other five-year-olds in their class. Also, boys who are held back tend to have more behavioral problems later on.”

  60. Old Man @ November 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm
    @CP –

    Congrats on having a dominating seventh grade football player – I know you are very proud. Despite a rather confusing post above, I think this is what you are trying to tell me:

    1) you were right to call me a fake liar because I continue to say that athletics had nothing to do with our decision to hold our ADHD son back because you KNOW that athletics had everything to do with the decision.

    I ask again, please tell me what a fake liar is? Seriously, I am so confused with that term.

    2) HPISD cheats because some players were held back – which is perfectly legal under the rules. And whatever school district you are a part of has no one holding their children back. Why don’t you let me know what school district you are in and we can check that out.

    3) “In response to Old Man’s weak argument about how would you know if your child were good at sports at 18, most parents have the ability to look ahead and guess that at every single grade their child would have an advantage over others.”

    We will agree to disagree. I am very impressed with your scouting abilities if you can tell me twelve years out who are going to be the “stud athletes.” Maybe give Jerry and Stephen Jones a call and volunteer those services.

    Trust me, if you saw my kid, you wouldn’t be saying something like that.

    4)CP – I am still waiting for your answers from my post above about the logic behind your statutory rape statement – which is still one of the most outrageous things posted on here in a long time. Please give me your thoughts on your statement. I am dying to hear them.


    @sammy –

    I appreciate you taking the time to find a 2008 article about one woman’s decision making process whether or not to hold her son back. The studies she mentioned are not referenced – oh well. What you didn’t post here is the next sentence after the sentences you posted:

    “Let me stop and rewind a bit: I am not talking about children with learning problems or developmental delays. Kids with delays and learning problems are a different consideration altogether.”

    I will say this has been an interesting give and take.

    To sum it up, I have had two children go through HPISD. Both late Spring birthdays. The first we didn’t hold back and he went through without incident. Our second, who is ADHD, we did hold back, and it has worked out fine so far. He is far from a stud athlete and studies hard enough to make the grades necessary to try go to UT, his dream school. I am convinced he is in his right place.


  61. IJS @ November 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm
    Okay, so for all the people thinking there are athletic holdbacks…what year did Romo repeat?

  62. GoArmy @ November 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    You sound bitter.

    Did somebody pee in your social pool? What’s your beef with HP? Or are you tired of losing and feel vindicated by taking stabs at HP when tabloid fodder is reported?

    Families hold their children back for several reasons as mentioned above. It is not cheating if it is within the District Bylaws. Your argument lacks support.

    Oh, by the way, I have three children in HPISD. All three are spring / summer birthdays, were not held back and the oldest starts for his varsity team. The majority of his peers are similar in age.

    Get over it! Romo is the exception, not the norm.

  63. CP @ November 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Or are you tired of losing and feel vindicated by taking stabs at HP when tabloid fodder is reported

    Wow. You managed to include 2 HP clichés into 1 sentence. HPers are arrogant and soft on rape

  64. Neat @ November 12, 2012 at 5:00 pm
    @Sammy – OK you stated the two negatives with holding back boys. What about the flip side; what are the positives? State the whole argument and not just bits and pieces to make your argument sound better.

  65. sammy @ November 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm
    @Old Man. I lead off with the fact that I am not speaking about learning disabilities for the reason some hold their boys back. My point is some can’t stand to have their kids average so they game the system to help their odds. I completely understand summer hold backs. Please let that sink in. What I have a problem with is Jan-April hold backs and what again sets me off is learning that Romo was a November hold back. Please don’t look at only your position(which was justified) but the others that are most assuredly gaming the system because, again, they can’t bear that their little Johnny is average or below average. I don’t believe it is athletic(as others have stated) but rather a belief that they can’t deal with average or below average kids, so they hold back without ADHD or dyslexia. The stats and 60 Minutes story from around 9 months ago on Dallas specifically speak for themselves even though you question an article from 2008.
    Please look at the larger picture- That rich kids without working mothers can keep their kids in(and pay for) prek for another year easier than a single working mother or two working parents from a less affluent school. But for those 4 people still reading this thread I graduated HP, have many friends with children at HP, and that is how I see it.

  66. Parkie @ November 12, 2012 at 6:53 pm
    So if you hold your kid back because of learning/emotional issues, and he happens to grow to 6’5″, should you feel guilt or shame? Or consider having him skip a grade out of consideration for the other kids who are only 5’9″?
    Should we look at the athletic prowess of the parents (or lack there of) before holding back a child?

  67. Old Man @ November 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm
    @sammy –

    I think we have about beat this to a pulp. I appreciate you keeping it on a civil basis and I hope you appreciate my position and can understand the frustration responding to the name calling and inaccuracies of many of the other posters.

    I will tell you our older son’s kindergarten teacher recommended that he be held back solely because of his birth date but we did not do that. I agree that holding back is not a cure all and I would hope that the reasons would be stronger than they don’t want their child to be average.

    Lastly, I was pointing out that the article you quoted from didn’t have references – I wish it had – I am not questioning the veracity of the stats quoted but it would have been nice to see the source.

    I hope we can close the book on this and respect each other’s position. Thanks.

    @CP – Please stop, you are embarrassing yourself. I will stop posting on this subject if you promise to do the same.

  68. sammy @ November 12, 2012 at 9:49 pm
    @parkie. Way to stay on point. Argue the athletics when my point is intelligence or rather average to below intelligence.

  69. wondering @ November 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm
    Learning difference, transferred from Shelton in middle school, held back at that time. Change any minds?

  70. XT @ November 13, 2012 at 8:55 am
    So, riddle me this Batman:
    * I have 3 kids. I held one son back, but my daughter and other son stayed in their grade, and are in fact amongst the youngest in their class. Given some of your reasoning, I must have held my son back to get an advantage, whether academically or athletically. Then why wouldn’t I do it for all 3 of my children? Do I like my one son better?

  71. Justin @ February 11, 2013 at 9:49 pm
    The problem is not the age, the academics, the athletics, the age requirements or the lack thereof. The problem is much more philosophical. For starters, there is the push to get rid of your children and put them in a public institution at the earliest age possible and to set them on a path toward graduation as if one size fits all. In addition, there is no way to make it where everyone is the same age unless you have 365 graduations per year. With only one per year, you are going to have 364 day discrepancies anyway. Furthermore, there is a false belief that equates “fairness” with “equality”. This is baloney. Personally, I would LIKE to have an older player on my son’s team if it’s going to make his team better. But maybe I’m the exception; maybe self-centeredness is better. Finally, there is the dependence on government in general and government schools in particular to somehow ignore statistical certainties and come up with a solution that defies logic. Then again, if anyone can do it, the government can. :-)

    Hey, I’ve got an idea…Why don’t we just change the rules of sports so there aren’t any losers and then everyone will be happy.

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