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2014 April 27

Ridiculous excuses for canceling show

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 09:09
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One of the most ridiculous excuses from a school official I’ve ever seen was published this week in the Washington Post:

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.

via Kindergarten show canceled so kids can keep studying to become ‘college and career ready.’ Really..

It seems that the kindergarten teachers at Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, N.Y. did not want to do yet another kindergarten school play.  I can’t say I blame them—herding kindergartners and getting them to perform is a lot of work, and even kindergarten teachers can get burned out on it.  But the excuse they use, “preparing children for college and career,” is so ridiculous that it would be regarded as absurd if presented in a play or novel.

Kindergarteners are supposed to be being prepared for elementary school, not for college, and theater is excellent preparation for many careers (any that involve public presentations, for example), anyway.

My son started enjoying acting in preschool and has been on stage (or on film) in about 70 productions since then. The school plays were not as good, generally, as the ones he did in summer or after-school productions, but they were still highly valued parts of his education.  His senior year of high school alone has seen 10 different performances, and he still has another improv show and playing Don John in Much Ado to come—and that’s just during the school year, not summer theater.

Theater has gotten him through high-school English classes that he would otherwise had difficulty tolerating—about half his high school English has been dramatic literature classes.  Conventional literary analysis irritates him, triggering writer’s block, but he can work on fairly deep analysis to do character development for performance.

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9 Comments »

  1. When teachers are fired and schools closed and privatized based on junk science standardized exams this is what happens. Welcome to Common Core and Race to the Top.

    Comment by zamanskym — 2014 April 27 @ 10:09 | Reply

    • While I agree that firing teachers based on their student scores on standardized exams is generally unreasonable, I’m not convinced that the Comon Core standards are at fault here. The administrative excuse was stupid, no matter what prompted it.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2014 April 27 @ 10:17 | Reply

  2. I guess culture is not very important to civilization. Jobs and money are all we need to succeed. Humor aside it would seem that there needs to be some major re-evaluation of educational philosophy at that school.

    Comment by gflint — 2014 April 27 @ 10:18 | Reply

  3. Besides readying for school, kindergarten…and the show…help build community, and develop skills in collaboration, goal-setting, memorization, oh, all kinds of non-academic things that are essential. Besides, families love them, and the school, doesn’t have to spend and energy they time they will in dealing with the fallout from this announcement.

    Comment by notherbarb — 2014 April 28 @ 06:01 | Reply

  4. […] By gasstationwithoutpumps […]

    Pingback by Ridiculous excuses for canceling show | Tinseltown Times — 2014 April 28 @ 18:41 | Reply

  5. I think this needs to be seen in the context of what is going on here in NY (which is where this district is located). The teachers unions and conservatives (strange bedfellows, hun?) are working hard to get parents riled up over Common Core so that we will beg the state legislature to get rid of the standards. As a parent, I hear constant statements from teachers about how our kids are so overstressed by the standards (excuse me, but my kids are not only NOT stressed, they actually like the new state tests based on Common Core better). There seems to be this constant campaign to upset us parents. So in that context, what better way to upset parents and make them hate Common Core than to get rid of the kindergarten show, an event that quite frankly is far more for the parents than the kids anyway?

    As it turned out, there was actually an earlier letter to the parents that told them about the cancellation and blamed the many snow days we had this year. This particular kindergarten is only 2.5 hours a day (another travesty because of budget problems) and had been hit hard by snow days. That was the real reason. I suspect the second letter was just a way to try to get parents to support the teachers union agenda of getting rid of Common Core.

    I am generally a big supporter of teachers unions, but what I see going on in NY right now is just disgusting. And various conservatives are jumping on the bandwagon too.

    Comment by Bonnie — 2014 April 30 @ 03:29 | Reply

    • Neither the snow days nor the “college and career readiness” excuse seem to justify canceling a kindergarten show, so people are left wondering what the real reason is. Cancelling a show because the rehearsal days or the show day were days school was cancelled would make sense, but there is nothing in kindergarten that is so essential that snow days would force the end-of-year-show to be replaced by the displaced material.

      Your explanation (using kids as political pawns in an attempt to eliminate Common Core) is quite plausible. I think that teacher burnout and lack of parent volunteers is also plausible, though I have no evidence for either.

      Honesty on the part of the teachers and principal would have been useful, but I guess that is too much to expect these days—everyone has gotten so used to making excuses for themselves, that giving real reasons would be considered strange behavior.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2014 April 30 @ 08:46 | Reply

  6. OTOH, I don’t see any pressing reason to keep a kindergarten show either. I suspect this one is pretty much like the ones my kids did, which has little to do with the level of theater your son participates in. The kindergarten show at my kids kindergarten consisted of herding them all onto risers in some semblance of color coordinated shirts (which of course we parents had to scramble to find – why oh why is it always a color that we don’t own?), so they can sing three songs in front of a massive audience filled with parents, sibs, aunties, granddads, etc, all excitedly waving video cameras. As a parent, I loved them as much as the next parent – but I have no illusion that my kids ever learned anything from these exercises in cat-herding, or that they even cared.

    Now when we come to serious arts, I do agree that those are useful and important – and of course here in NY, the serious arts are exactly what is cut due to our lovely governor’s budget cuts and property tax cuts. We lost third grade band and orchestra, which I think is far more devastating than losing a kindergarten show.

    And the snow days were a BIG issue. We had a lot of them. We had to give back school vacation days to make them up. NY state law mandates X amount of classroom time, so we were all impacted.

    Comment by Bonnie — 2014 April 30 @ 10:53 | Reply

    • I agree that snow days can have a big impact in later grades (particularly high-school AP classes, where the AP exam is inflexibly scheduled), but I’m not convinced kindergarten has (or should have) so much content that even a 25% reduction in class time should have much impact.

      I also agree that a lot of kindergarten shows are really badly done, with little benefit for the children. We were fortunate that the kindergartens my son went to (2, because I was on sabbatical for part of that year) were less about herding kids than about helping them learn to do school. The one in Seattle was a particularly rich environment, in which most of the kids played while the teacher and an aide worked one-on-one with students to improve their reading skills—my son spent most of his time there in the reading area, reading all the books they had. The one in Santa Cruz was a bilingual one, in which my son started learning Spanish. I don’t remember there being a kindergarten performance in either one, and I have no record of one on his theater page, though I do have records of summer theater that year and even preschool performances.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2014 April 30 @ 11:22 | Reply


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