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Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Haunted School

The Michelle Rhee room proves scary
for both children and adults
New York City - Outside of P.S. 129 in the Bronx is a sign written in chalk on an old blackboard that invites children and adults to "Brave the haunted halls of education reform....if you dare." But if you plan on accepting the chilling invitation to enter, be prepared to wait a while because this modern take on a haunted house is so popular that getting inside can take as long as two hours.

The brainchild of PTA president Molly Shannon has been raking in thousands and thousands of dollars. "We do something like this every year to raise money for the school. But this year the response has just been incredible. We've made more money on our first weekend than we did all last year." The idea came to Shannon when she overheard a conversation between some teachers. "They were talking about how frightening all the changes in education were. Basically it just mushroomed from there."
Governor Cuomo is pro-death penalty for schools

So what exactly is so scary about the Haunted School? To find out, my husband, our two children and I decided to enter at our "own risk."

Upon entering the school, we were greeted by a robot-like coed sporting a Teach for America t-shirt and a forced smile. She promised to guide us through the house but one minute later she mysteriously disappeared and we entered the first leg of our tour without her. Jarring though that was, it was nothing compared to what awaited us. Without warning, "Michelle Rhee" leapt at our oldest child trying to tape his mouth shut. As my son cowered behind me, she threatened to remove my tenure while menacing me with a copy of the Common Core. As we escaped into the hallway, a new TFA guide greeted us. We asked him what happened to our old guide to which he cryptically replied, "She moved on."

In the next room, "Executioner Andrew Cuomo" threatened to execute our school if it failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress. "AYP," Cuomo screamed as he brandished his axe. That made my little girl cry so we stepped into the hall for a breather. Yet another new TFA guide got her some water. She too had no idea what had happened to our previous guides. "Change is good," she said to no one in particular.

Common Core bubble tests prove to
be the most frightening thing of all
Two kids were crying outside the room we next approached. One of them sniffled, "Please don't make me go back in there." What lurked inside? The scariest thing of all, a standardized test hanging from a corporate shill was enough to make both my children ask to go home. So unfortunately, I cannot tell you about the other terrible things that lay in wait for you at the Haunted School.

On a funny note, as we were looking for the exit (our guide had abandoned us again) we wandered into what we thought was a roomful of zombie children but it turned out they were actual kids just preparing for the specialized high school exam.

The haunted school is open daily from 4pm - 10pm. Admission is $5.00 for children under 12 and $10.00 for adults. There is also a hay ride, pumpkin patch and an Arne Duncan clown who hilariously attempts to juggle ethics and money.

Reality Alert: