Since 1992, students from around the country have spent the last Thursday in April discovering what professional work life is like through the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day program. The national program invites parents to take students to work with them in hopes of connecting what they learn in school with the real world.
The program is administered by a foundation. In New York, students are given an excused absence from school granted they can produce a letter from a participating workplace. Companies are encouraged to plan lessons, such as learning the components of a paystub, or understanding the value of the company website.
For the first time in 20 years, some children from New York, the city in which the program was created, will be excluded from participating in the program due to a scheduling conflict with the New York state mathematics exam.
“We started working back in January or February. That was when we first found out about it because parents kept emailing and calling. They thought it was our fault,” Carolyn McKecuen, president of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation said by phone last week.
Students in grades three to eight will be taking the state mandated test. In New York City, a letter was sent to parents of students in those grades asking them to “please plan how your child may attend in the afternoon, after school has dismissed for the day.”
McKecuen requested the New York State Department of Education to reschedule the tests so that students could participate in the program. McKecuen said she waited a few months for a response and days before she was scheduled to be interviewed for Crain’s New York, she received a letter from the NYSED.
The letter, which came from Dennis Tompkins, external affairs chief of the NYSED, stated, “Every effort has to be made to avoid scheduling the administration of state exams on religious holidays, and we face the added challenge of finding testing dates that don’t conflict with school breaks,” according to an email from Tom Dunn of the NYSED.
Dunn added, “Working around the varied holiday vacation schedules across the state in 700 districts pointed to this week and the prior one as best suited for the tests. There may be more flexibility next year.”
While McKecuen was disappointed in the scheduling conflict this year, she is thankful the program helps so many kids each year. “To think we are going as strong, or stronger, 20 years later—we worked with 37 million kids and adults last year. It is really amazing how much this has done.”