02 June 2018

The kindergarten school play has been cancelled

In April 2014, the Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, New York, sent a letter to the parents of its kindergartners, confirming rumors that the school would not be going ahead with its annual play.
Dear Kindergarten Parents and Guardians,
We hope this letter serves to help you better understand how the demands of the twenty-first century are changing schools.
The reason for eliminating the kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and careers 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 please everyone. But know that we are making these decisions with the interests of all children in mind.
These kids, the letter implied, could not spare two days from their regularly scheduled work.
Continued in the June issue of Harper's Magazine.


  1. Is anyone really shocked at this. We want to hold teachers "accountable" for achievement in reading and math, as if that is all that matters, and when the schools decide to focus on reading and math (aka CCR), the public is appalled.

    As Renault might have said at Rick's School, "I am shocked that the schools are worried about reading and math, the only 2 areas they are tested in."

  2. I'd say that in addition to implying that the kids cannot spare two days (although it might be more if they have to learn lines or songs or dances), it also implies that there is nothing worthwhile to learn from the process of presenting a play to an audience. I remember my kindergarten play--I was the Peach Fairy--not so much for what we said or did, but for learning about the value of skills such as attention, awareness, bravery, and collaboration. These skills are indeed not tested for by the education system, but we are surely tested for them in real life!

    1. The education system did not bring on testing, the political system did. When you and I were in school, and when I began teaching, grades were an indication of the learning and achievement of a student. Not so now, when children earn a 50% for submitting an assignment with their name on it and assignments are to be accepted, w/o penalty, 2 weeks past the due date.

      I can assure you that teachers are not responsible for these policies.

    2. I agree that no teacher ever asked for this. The education *system* is complicit in that many school boards and state legislature education committees have a preponderance of members who wish put programs into place specifically to see that public education is starved. When schools falter under the burden of increased testing on reduced funding, they stand ready to declare that public education has failed and the only solution is private education, paid for in large part by public monies taken from public schools or offset by tax cuts.

    3. "The education *system* is complicit in that many school boards and state legislature education committees"

      As I stated, the political system. There are few bodies more political than School boards (especially appointed boards) and state legislatures.

  3. Playing is the profession of the Kids (Maria Montessori)

  4. This sounds like "Whoever was in charge of doing this dropped the ball, and or thought it was a pain in the ass, so now we gotta cover their ass."

  5. As a bit of a side note, it's interesting that the article references one of the Danny Dunn books, a series which, as a whole, promotes learning as an engaging, interactive process. They also, albeit in a very limited way, value diversity: Danny's friend Irene, a girl, plans to be a physicist and often seems smarter than Danny himself. His friend Joe is a poet with no interest or skill in science but still manages to be helpful.
    Danny Dunn & The Homework Machine is the third book in the series and the one that introduces Irene.


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