Years from now when your adult child looks back on his kindergarten year, what will he remember? Will he recall an afternoon squandered on a dalliance — a show performed before an audience of doting parents? Or will his mind hark back to precious hours devoted instead to honing his skills as a reader, writer, and problem solver, which have led to his certain success as a contributing member of society?
Those trenchant questions are at the heart of a letter sent out to parents of kindergartners at Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, N.Y. The purpose of the letter, a photocopy of which appears here (transcription below), was to let parents know that the annual year-end kindergarten show was being canceled.
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, [sic] 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. [Emphasis added]
The letter is signed by interim principal Ellen Best-Laimit and four kindergarten teachers.
Let’s pause and reflect. Even allowing for rehearsal time, we are talking here about a couple of days, three maybe, spent learning lines and songs. We are talking, moreover, about kindergarten, which — even in the era of Common Core — is sort of school but not totally. What in the world is this woman thinking?
Unfortunately for her, parents are a little too dense to understand what she believes is at stake. The Washington Post notes that “one mother who received the letter, Ninette Gonzalez Solis … was very upset about the cancellation.” She vented her frustrations on Facebook, which in turn prompted other moms to phone the principal. Which led to the writing of “the letter.”