The emphasis on preparing students to be college and career ready is so strong that one Long Island school cancelled its traditional kindergarten play and the school district is supporting that decision over parent concerns, according to Newsday yesterday.
In the Monday night meeting with about 100 parents, students and teachers, Elwood school officials publicly explained why the principal’s decision to cancel the kindergarten play is being upheld.
The rationale for canceling the annual spring variety show by the Elwood school district’s Harley Avenue Elementary School administration is timing. Because of loss of instructional time from snow days due to a rough winter, critical instructional time was lost. The result is time will be taken from the arts and the life skills it generates to improve academics that is measured by standardized tests.
Intermin Principal Ellen Best-Laimit and four kindergarten teachers sent a letter to parents reminding them of the increased demands on schools from more rigorous learning standards. "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, co-workers, and problem solvers,” the letter said, reported Newsday.
Some parents are protesting the decision. One online petition to reinstate the show has reached 3,000 signatures as of today. The comments mention the benefits five-year-old kindergartners gain from participating in the show such as public speaking, teamwork and social skills. Another benefit is fun as a stress reducer.
The school day
The Harley Elementary School does not offer full day kindergarten unlike most Long Island schools. The school day is only two and a half hours long. This doesn’t leave much time to prepare students for first grade, let alone college and career. One solution is to extend the school day or school year to schedule both academic and art programs. Another is to mix both into the curricula. For example, select a play that supplements ongoing lessons.