Thursday, September 17, 2009

Extracurricular

You know what I think about when I read that one of Ohio's biggest school districts has cut ALL extracurricular activities?

Something is terribly, terribly wrong with the way we Americans handle our public schools. Every reform in my lifetime seems to have made it worse.

Conservatives don't want taxes to fund public education that may include instruction on subjects they disagree with. People who disagree with them are socialists who hate America. Liberals can't figure out if they want to protect ineffective teachers' unions that defend ineffective teachers or advocate for students. People who disagree with them are racists. When they get together in the spirit of "bipartisanism" we end up with No Child Left Behind that focuses on test results at the expense of extracurriculars.

Add to this how much focus the media puts on national dramatics while ignoring local reporting and we get school boards and superintendents who can get away with whatever they want, administrators who don't know what they're doing and state budget monitors who get kickbacks to steer contracts towards whichever educational materials provider can pony up.

Everywhere, if parents knew what was going on inside schools, the situation would not be tolerated. This week's video of the St. Louis boy getting beaten was horrific, but more horrific is that the same kind of thing (and worse) happens every single day (if not more) on school buses, in school yards, and around schools in every region and demographic of this country. But what do we talk about when we talk about schools? Barack Obama's "stay in school" speech.

Tens of thousands march in protest to either the Bush or the Obama administrations, we can get cameras into ACORN's headquarters. But we can't get cameras into our schools. We can't get parents to show up for teacher-student conferences. And we can't seem to find people who can run the schools right.

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3 comments:

DADvocate said...

From the article in SI: took the unprecedented step of canceling all extra-curricular activities after voters failed to pass an operating levy Aug. 4.

This is simply a form of extortion the school boards/teachers use to strong arm the populace into giving them as much money as they want. I'm not sure about this district, but the U.S. already pays more per pupil than almost any country in the world. I'm sure this school district could find other places to cut waste but then it wouldn't be effective extortion, would it?

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

While it sounds extortionary, we cannot know from our information alone. But if they're also talking about cutting into academics in the near future, that sounds more like a real budget crunch.

NCLB puts emphasis on test scores, so you have to put money into those basic classes. Extracurriculars can be huge money drains on school systems, and while I may think they are essential to education working, there are obviously other schools of thought. This is especially true in districts with budget problems (IE: inner cities, rural south, etc).

Thing is, parents and involved parties in that community should be able to get their hands on a budget document and examine it critically. Reporters could, too. That could shed light on whether these cuts are required by not approving the additional taxes or if their behavior is simply extortionary.

That would require some local citizen journalists or some local or state media to start going through someone's files.

DADvocate said...

True, further analysis is needed.

Cutting extracurriculars can backfire because extracurriculars pull in a large amount of community and parental support. If my kids' school system did this, I'd be looking for a different school system. Not just due to sports but for all the other stuff they do also.

Where as, a few years ago, a local doctor, with no kids in high school, forked out all the money to put down new turf on our football field. He just likes our coach and high school football. (My son's team is #1 in the state in their class right now, BTW.) At a high school in Kentucky, a retired NFL player and now well known commentator wrote a check for the entire cost artificial turf for his son's high school.

Good schools reap other benefits. My kids' small school system, there's only one elementary school (pre to 3), one intermediate (4-5), middle (6-8), and high school logged 52,000 hours of volunteer time in 2007. I can guarantee they there was more than that because my time wasn't logged.

Many school systems need a new attitude.
People will leave this schools and those who are left will be in a truly second rate school district.