Editor's note: Kindergarten (and even preschool) has increasingly become academic— at the expense of things such as recess and the arts — in this era of standardized test-based school reform. An annual year-end kindergarten show has been canceled at a New York school because, the school says, the children have to keep working so they will be "college and career" ready. Here is the letter that Ellen Best-Laimit, the interim principal of Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, N.Y., and four teachers sent to parents who had complained about the cancellation of the kindergarten show:
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 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.
Ellen Best-Laimit, Angela Casano, Keri Colmone, Stefanie Gallagher, Martha DeMartini
— Washington Post