ELWOOD, N.Y. – Interim Principal Ellen Best-Laimit of Harley Avenue Primary School informed parents this week in a letter that the school’s annual kindergarten show was being canceled so that the children could spend more time on test prep for the upcoming New York State Tests.
“The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple,” read the letter, signed by Principal Best-Laimit and four kindergarten teachers. “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, not by having them mumble embarrassingly along to a karaoke version of Here Comes the Sun.
“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,” continued the letter, before ending with, “We strongly believe that more test prep will allow our students to test at or above grade level on the year-end state exams. I’m sure you will all agree that having your child test into honors or AP-track courses in 1st or 2nd grade is what Kindergarten is all about.”
A number of parents at the school are not pleased with the decision to cancel the performance, with one parent setting up an online petition calling for the program’s reinstatement. By the end of the week, the petition had garnered over 1,200 signatures.
“I don’t understand why they’re so driven to test my son,” said Harley Avenue parent Ninette Gonzalez Solis. “He’s five. He’s afraid of girl-cooties. He eats paste.”
Interim Principal Best-Laimit, understood the frustration, but said she knew it was the correct decision. “This cohort of kids did not test well last year in Pre-K,” she said. “Some of them had trouble holding their #2 pencils properly, others were unable to fill in the bubbles without going outside the lines. A shocking number of them had trouble just sitting still for the duration of the 90-minute test.
“Frankly, if we didn’t take the show away from them and give them this extra test prep time, none of these students would have a shot at getting into an Ivy League College,” she added.