CLEVELAND, Texas – There are questions, concerns and confusion at an elementary school in Cleveland over a curriculum shakeup that takes coloring away from the kids.
Parents at Southside Primary said they were told by teachers on Monday that Crayons were being removed from the classroom.
Cleveland Independent School District claims that’s not entirely true. According to a spokesperson, the school is taking away “the coloring method,” but not the actual Crayons.
In a letter to parents, Southside Primary Prinicipal Preston Wenz said the school is "increasing the strength of [their] lessons while decreasing the amount of 'busy' work."
"Students will still be using crayons for academic activities," the letter read. "'Busy' activities as mentioned above, such as general coloring, coloring pages that have items starting with a certain letter and similar activities that do not contain the depth that our students deserve for academic success, are what's being trimmed down."
The district said the school needs to focus on academics to better prepare younger students. According to the district, the changes are because of low performing test scores at the third- and fourth-grade level.
“That’s not fair to punish the little kids because the big kids aren’t doing their studying,” said mother Vanessa Marin. “My kids have difficulty learning and colors have really helped and made it worth it.”
Stacey Gatlin with Cleveland ISD declined to do an interview for this story.
She said students at Southside Elementary would no longer be using coloring sheets and would only be allowed to color “when it is appropriate.”
"It is our job to make sure we deliver that instruction to the best of our ability," Wenz wrote in his letter to parents. "If that means not spending 15 minutes on coloring a page that can be colored later at home or at snack time, then that's what we will do."
“I think it’s a blow to the kids,” said grandfather Kelly Ford. “I would like to take this up with the school.”
Parents claim the school did not formally tell them about any changes.
“Coloring keeps them involved, keeps them upbeat. I know my son, that’s one of his biggest things,” said father Blake Satterfield.
The district initially said the changes are a directive from the Texas Education Agency.
The TEA refuted that claim in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“At no time did the Texas Education Agency or anyone affiliated with the agency direct staff at Cleveland ISD to eliminate coloring at one of their elementary campuses," said Debbie Ratcliffe, director of media relations at the Texas Education Agency. "Because of their low performance, the campus has an assigned professional service provider who suggested that the campus provide more opportunities for active learning and move away from busy work unrelated to academic instruction."