It’s Never Too Early to Teach Kids to Hate Learning: The Elwood, NY Edition

I’ve written before about how we are inflicting high-stakes testing on small children, to their detriment. Now we note this letter from the Elwood, NY Public Schools (if the picture isn’t clear, text follows):


The letter to 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 misconceptions about the kindergarten show. It is most important to keep in mind is that this issue is not unique to Elwood. Although the movement towards 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 lifelong skills and know we can do that best by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers, and problem solvers. Please do not fault us for making professional decisions that will not please everyone. But know that we are making these decisions with the best interests of everyone in mind.

Rarely, in the annals of bureaucratic writing has so much fucking stupidity been crammed into so few words. The awkward style of the first sentence, combined with the lack of editing of the second sentence is priceless coming from educators (if the letter were an internet comment, that kind of screw-up often suggests a blown gasket. Maybe the administrators are feeling the pressure?). The supercilious arrogance will definitely win hearts and minds.

What is ridiculous is that kindergarteners–five year old kids–aren’t really ready for testing. It’s just not developmentally appropriate. And many parents expect that kindergarten will involve the learning of basic social skills–which, on occasion, are really important.

If the administrators had been honest, they would have written something like this:

Look, we like the Kindergarten show too. But we, as professionals, are assessed on those stupid fucking tests. We need to start prepping the students for the exams as soon as possible to get our scores the best they can be. By the way, if we screw the pooch on the scores, the state will take over your school: at that point, you can kiss any hopes of local control goodbye. If you have a problem with that, go bother the state legislature and the governor, because we can’t do a damn thing about it.

We are screwing up an entire generation of children over an obsession with metrics, and this is going to hurt us in the long run.

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6 Responses to It’s Never Too Early to Teach Kids to Hate Learning: The Elwood, NY Edition

  1. realthog says:

    This may be a hoax. If you look at the school’s website (, the Kindergarten Show is still listed for May 14/15 in the “Events” column at the right. Of course, it could be that the website’s out of date, but . . .

  2. georgewiman says:

    Hoax was the first thought of the Pharynguloids as well, but after double-checking it turned out to be real. Not a hoax. Actually happened.

  3. Newcastle says:

    It is interesting to look at the school web site and see the school district’s take on what happened. Their statement is that there were so many days lost to snow closures this winter that there was not enough time left in the schedule to complete the curriculum and practice for the play. Therefore they replaced the play performance day with a game day which doesn’t require rehearsal time.

    If that is the true reason behind all of this then whoever wrote that letter and left out ALL of that information really needs to be slapped.

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