Here’s the easy-reading version:
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.
No, this is not a joke, a hoax, a parody, or a gag, though I wish to high heaven it was. This is the quality of thought pervading American education on display. Rick Jones, the Curmudgeon (of Curmie to his friends), returns to the blogging wars with a scathing and eloquent analysis of this fiasco, and I recommend it to you heartily. (He also dismembers a dishonest and unconstitutional Oklahoma course on The Bible). I’ll only quote one of his points, but it is one that I, like Rick who teaches theater, know a little extra about:
“But, let us pretend that the function of kindergarten is to move five-year-olds a step closer to career-readiness, and that having fun is at best a distraction. Fine. So in order to cancel a “show” for that purpose is to suggest that there are no careers in the arts per se, that speaking in public is never going to be required, that learning to be part of a team is irrelevant as a life skill. It is to declare the long-term uselessness of confronting and meeting deadlines. It is to pronounce that problem-solving never manifests in the production of a show. It is to proclaim that the memorization, development of muscle memory, and inter-personal requirements of mounting a production, any production, aren’t central to developing the intellectual and social maturity of any child.”
Pointer: Rick Jones