A student cannot learn about the origins of Thanksgiving through making pilgram hats and macaroni necklaces. China cannot be better understood through making a paper mache panda bear (a real eighth grade assignment at a local middle school). No insight into Italy can be gleaned through cooking spaghetti. Construction paper snowflakes are not educational. Pipe cleaners and popsickle sticks do not shed light on anything.
Parents in the system are trapped by this busy work. They have to praise them as artifacts of their childrens' hands. But even given that, a note to principals: endless walls of identical standardized caterpillar art projects on display for parents may be pushing this manipulation - it does not establish your school as a hotbed incubator for future naturalists or artists - it is just creepy.
While experiments, physical projects, and self-directed creations and expressions of self are critical, standardized crafts are, well, not.
It is up to you to decide into which category high school chemistry falls.