Note: This letter was sent to the head of curriculum for the new “Arts Integration” program in the Upper Darby Schools. The superintendent of of the district was copied.
Dear. Mrs. Menz,
The members of the Upper Darby Parents Coalition are writing to share our feelings toward the district’s recent Pinwheels for Peace project. At the August School Board meeting, this project was touted as a public activity that would launch the arts integration program in the elementary schools. You mentioned that it would be a display for the community that involved “a musical program including the singing of the school song”. It seemed like an ideal opportunity for everyone to witness first-hand the fruits of this new way of learning.
Monday morning, many parents saw an article in the Delaware County Times stating that the schools would be unveiling their pinwheels that day. None of the parents in our very involved group were aware that Monday, October 1st was the day of the Pinwheels for Peace celebrations. This event was not listed anywhere on the UDSD website where other important district events are listed. It was never communicated in a Global Connect message. It was not mentioned on any flyer that has been sent home from the district since children started school on September 7th.
After seeing the article, many parents in our group called their children’s schools to find out about the event. Since most of the school celebrations were planned for early in the day, most parents were denied the opportunity to see our children unveil their pinwheels. We are in agreement that if we had known in advance that this event was happening, many of us could have made arrangements that allowed us to attend.
We realize that schools are busy places, and that parents cannot be invited to every assembly. But given that this activity had been publicly identified as the launch pad for arts integration, was held up at a School Board meeting as a beacon for community engagement, and was actively promoted in the Delaware County Times, it is sad that parents were not invited to attend. The irony is that the online Delaware County Times article has numerous comments appended to the Monday article that mock the concept of the pinwheel installation. And today, there is an editorial from Phil Heron questioning what educational benefits are gained from this project and how making pinwheels can contribute to higher AYP scores (http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/10/01/opinion/doc506a5e36dbf36517476893.txt?viewmode=default).
How sad it is that their mockery of our teachers’ and childrens’ efforts cannot be tempered by parents who attended the event and could attest to the positivity surrounding it.
The parents in this district are very committed to supporting their children’s education. Although some parents have expressed doubts about how arts integration is being introduced into the curriculum, many of us are eager to see it in action and want it to work. We want to be good role models for our children and show them that change can be good, even when it is scary and different. This project could have been a wonderful experience for students, teachers, and parents to come together and celebrate our children’s first efforts in this new era of change. Instead, it is yet another wasted opportunity for parental engagement due to poor district communication that may or may not be intentional. In a digital age, when news travels through email, website, and global connect messaging at the click of a mouse, a simple notification to parents would probably have been just as easy to craft (and probably more professionally and personally satisfying) as a press release to the local newspaper.
Upper Darby Parents Coalition