Citing the need to “prepare children for college and career,” the interim principal of Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, NY has canceled the 2014 kindergarten end-of-year school play. Here’s the text of the letter parents received, as published in the Washington Post. It was signed by the principal and all four of the school’s kindergarten teachers:
April 25, 2014
Dear Kindergarten Parents and Guardians,
We hope this letter serves to help you better understand how the demands of the 21st century are changing schools, and, more specifically, to clarify, misperceptions about the Kindergarten show. It is most important to keep in mind is [sic] that this issue is not unique to Elwood. Although the movement toward more rigorous learning standards has been in the national news for more than a decade, the changing face of education is beginning to feel unsettling for some people. What and how we teach is changing to meet the demands of a changing world.
The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers. Please do not fault us for making professional decisions that we know will never be able to please everyone. But know that we are making these decisions with the interests of all children in mind.
Did anyone bother to notice that these are five-year-old children? What happened here: Did the children not perform well on a standardized test, and this is their punishment? Did some administrator decide that dressing up as a flower, singing a springtime song, and/or learning a little dance might not look good on a five-year-old’s college resume and could prevent her from getting into the Ivy League? Do the school and parents really believe that a few more hours of rote memorization and test prep will make a difference in these children’s lives? This kind of thinking is the height of absurdity. But, unfortunately, it’s just an extreme example of the way thing seem to be going in what passes for education in 21st century America.