Several weeks ago before Valentine’s Day, our elementary school’s student council hosted a “Daddy Daughter Dance” as a fundraiser. The brainchild of the 4th grade teacher who is this year’s student council sponsor, the Daddy Daughter Dance was a phenomenal success rivaled in attendance only by our annual PTSA Bingo night!

Not only did this event provide a great opportunity for dads and daughters to share a special hour of fun and fellowship, it also was a remarkable window into the fantastic diversity of our school community. I regret we don’t have more opportunities to gather together as parents and members of our neighborhood. The dance itself was just an hour long, and I only met a few other dads… most of the time, appropriately, was spent dancing together with Rachel. Still, it was fantastic to see all these dads dressed up to varying degrees with extremely happy daughters, enjoying a Thursday night of fun and acting silly together.

By and large, many of us in Oklahoma still live in pretty segregated schools and communities. The school and community where I teach, and the suburb community from which we moved about three years ago to live in Oklahoma City (each are different suburbs) are all “very white” relative to many of the neighborhoods and schools of “the city.” Living in a more ethnically diverse community is one of several benefits we enjoy and knew we would appreciate when we made that decision to move as a family. Still, we live very busy lives, so chances like these are rare indeed. The last time I remember dancing with Rachel was at the wedding of a cousin in Kansas, and I think that was about 7 years ago.

Clearly we need to make more time to set aside our “busy schedules” and just dance. Having a chance to spend that hour with my own daughter dancing, and with so many other dads and daughters in our neighborhood and community was a special opportunity indeed.

That evening of fellowship and fun made me reflect on many things, including this: How stupid it is that in our schools and in educational policy discussions, we are so focused on TESTING and SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY? These things do not produce experiences of quality, and they do not promote good learning in our schools. Tragically and unfortunately, they produce exactly the opposite: Hours filled with test preparation and a narrowing of the curriculum to the point that hands-on science (to name something specific) is literally a pipe dream for many of our students.

Every dad at our Daddy Daughter Dance wants the best for his child, and it was so special to experience… even for just an hour… a shared time of fun and celebration together. I count it as a great blessing to have been able to attend this event with Rachel, and would encourage you to share this idea with your own elementary school student council and PTA/PSTA organization. If our experiences are representative, this is a fantastic idea on many levels which will, among other things, result in both a successful fundraiser for your school as well as a catalyst for good memory making among dads and daughters.

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