Tuesday, January 25, 2005

What Are Schools For? Part II

Given the financial situation in our district, we should consider all options when cuts have to be made, and extra-curricular athletics must be part of that calculus. However, the fact that the schools would no longer provide opportunities for athletic competition (outside of PE class) doesn't mean that the students would no longer have such opportunities. Think of all the Pop Warner football leagues, Little League, martial arts programs, Golden Gloves boxing, gymnastics programs, and local swim teams that exist. In colder climates you can add hockey to that list, and no doubt there are others that I didn't mention. Opportunities abound not only in local Park and Recreation Districts, but in private settings as well.

Our district must decide what is entree and what is dessert. If the budget situation demands that we do without dessert, then do so we must. I cannot imagine why a school would do without an English teacher, a math teacher, a science teacher, or a history teacher--and all the different courses they teach the students--and not consider cutting programs in which only a minority of students participate, and which are often available elsewhere.

Or primary mission must be academic.

I leave it to others to decide if all the cuts necessary can be made in areas that do not directly affect students. If that can be done my analysis becomes unnecessary, as student needs take precedence over administrative bureaucracy. If cuts must affect students, though, then we must prioritize all of our student programs, academic and otherwise, and start cutting from the bottom of the list.

What I've proposed is a practical solution, not an ideal one. I don't like it, and this isn't the way it's supposed to be, but this is how it is.

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