Kai worked hard over the summer to keep up with her studies. We bought her three math books and she did a lot of work staying up with her multiplication and fractions -- I think she's ready for this year! Over the last few days, she finished up fractions in each of her books and also finished reading a few more novels that she picked up over the summer.
The other thing she did in the last days of summer was continue to create. Kailey is an inventor. She sees the box that our produce comes in every week and thinks -- jet pack! And then she sets about making a jet pack. Or, she looks at the empty can that once contained vegetable soup and thinks - telephone! And she proceeds to make an old fashioned telephone. This summer with her cousins, she had them writing the script to a play and making puppets. Kailey is always creating. It can drive me a little nutty because she will be in her art room in the morning rather than making her lunch, eating her breakfast, brushing her hair or getting on her shoes. She wants nothing more than to be making things at all times.
There has been a lot of chaos at Courtyard over the summer and we are nervous about this school year. We think she lucked out with another good teacher. But that teacher, although seemingly good, is a newbie. The person who was supposed to be teaching this year quit just a few weeks ago. We are pretty sure her departure was in response to the new Principal, who has a bit of an authoritarian style that is really not conducive to the culture at Courtyard. Unfortunately for us, it means we are having to spend a lot more time at school board meetings and other school events. And, we spent the weekend writing him a letter explaining why we didn't like the new decree (I use that word purposefully) that the students would be lining up every morning in the school yard to recite the pledge of allegiance. Our letter said the following:
Thank you for the information about the start of the school year. We are writing to express concern about the new Morning Line Up routine and, specifically, requiring the children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day. Part of the attraction to a school like Courtyard is that it is a non-denominational school that encourages our children to be critical, outside-the-box thinkers. We want our children to be in an environment that encourages diverse and independent thinking and helps them develop a worldview. The Pledge of Allegiance, which includes reference to God and is focused on allegiance to country over responsibility to our larger global community, is, in our view, antithetical to these principles. While we understand that many public schools have a daily tradition of reciting the pledge of allegiance, Courtyard is not a public school and we are not bound by the rote traditions of public school.
We do believe that other aspects of the Morning Line Up make sense including daily affirmations, gratitude messages, and recognition of birthdays. These things are the types of community-building exercises that support all of the children and do not divide them based on their religious or world views.
The culture and community at Courtyard is one of the primary reasons that we chose to send our daughter to this school. It is also what has led us to reach out to other families and encourage them to consider sending their children to our school. That culture includes (1) celebrating diversity; (2) recruiting and retaining teachers that are exceptional at teaching independent thinking and not bound to teach to a test or boxed in by standardized curriculums; and (3) ensuring that arts, drama, music and foreign language are part of the core curriculum for every child. Our concern in watching the developments at Courtyard over the summer is that, in all three areas, this culture is at risk of being lost.
Forcing the children to recite the pledge of allegiance each morning is the latest indication of a culture change at Courtyard that is concerning us. The loss of master teachers late in the summer was also a disconcerting blow. And, while we understand that cuts are required due to a 17% decline in registration, the elimination of the enrichment teachers and how that was communicated to the broader community was yet another indicator of a changing culture and focus that is of great concern.
We would like to partner with you in making Courtyard into the school it promises to be and that it has the potential to become. We hope that you take this letter in that spirit. We would welcome the chance to discuss these issues further.
Angie and Eric
So - the year is off to a rocky start. Hopefully Kailey's inventiveness and love of learning see her through this coming year. We have so loved this school and how it has encouraged her to be the inventive, creative student that she is... I hope we can maintain that culture for her and that we don't have to start searching for other options.
Here's to a new school year!
We love you, Kailey.