Tuesday, March 3, 2009
NO SNOW DAY FOR YOU!!!
While school children around the City enjoyed a rare snow day yesterday, a New York Times story this morning reveals that a small group of third graders were not so lucky. Those eight-year-old students at Harlem Success Academy, one of Eva Moskowitz’s four charter schools, were informed by automated telephone messages that they were expected to show up for four hours of classes, from 10:00 to 2:00.
The reason? Those 50 children were the only ones in the school due to take State standardized exams tomorrow, as of course will third through fifth graders all over NYC. One child in the Times story is quoted enthusiastically about being able to "ace the exam.”
Maybe it's just me, but I find this story so disturbing on so many levels -- making third graders (and their teachers) go to school on a day when the rest of the city school children had a day off, just so they could prepare for a test. It’s not as though they were the only ones taking exams this week, but Ms. Moskowitz apparently decided that four more hours of test preparation was more important than letting those eight-year-olds enjoy the rare opportunity of a little free time playing in a heavy snowfall with their friends. Who does “education” like this really serve, the children? Or the adults like Ms. Moskowitz and Mr. Klein who benefit politically (and, as we recently learned thanks to Juan Gonzalez, quite substantially financially)?
Some of my most cherished childhood memories growing up in Indianapolis involved the thrill of waking up to snow days – sledding on any hill we could find, building snow forts, having snowball fights, and, yes, even shoveling a neighbor’s driveway for $5. I know Manhattan isn't Indianapolis, but still. Furthermore, I don't ever remember my school days being driven by the overwhelming desire to "ace" a standardized exam (other, perhaps, than the SAT, but we were 17 by then and knew the stakes in that exam were personal, directly affecting our future – and almost nobody thought in terms of “acing” that test).
Perhaps for these third graders, their future, less glowing memories will include the time all their friends stayed home and played while they alone studied for a State exam. I guess if it's test-acing little third grade robots you want, this is what you do to get them.