Saturday, June 30, 2007

Our Town

One of the things I like about living in a small town, and being committed to living in that small town for a long while, is that local politics are easy to follow--not to mention amusing. When NPR cut its talk radio station in our town a few months ago (which I still haven't forgiven them for) I began occasionally listening to the local talk radio station. I get to keep up with the constant complaints against the school board for their incompetence (I haven't decided whether I think that's true or not), the ongoing debate about whether or not the local baseball club's recent affiliation with the Seattle Mariners is a step in the right direction, and whether or not Mary Winkler should fry.

Most recently the call-in shows have centered the newest hot topic here in town: the elimination of fourth-block athletic practice.

Let's start with what little background I have, having only been here for a year. First, it seems that our public school system has a little issue with No Child Left Behind. Despite the fact that I think NCLB is a big bunch of baloney, it is important to the issue at hand to know that the local schools are performing below NCLB standards. Second, from what I can tell, sometime in the recent past the school board voted to cut the number of high school class periods each day from six to four. Again, I'm not sure if that means that students really only take four classes each semester (which seems a little on the low side) or if they somehow rotate class periods so that they can actually take more than four classes. Third, up until recently varsity sports teams were allowed to use the fourth block of the school day for athletic practice. That's 25% of the school day.

So it seems that in the last week or so the school board voted to eliminate "fourth-block athletic practice." And (GASP) they voted without getting the input of the community! The horror!

Here's what they might have heard had they decided to let the members of the community speak out. I know because these are the comments I've heard on the radio and read in the newspaper:
  • Now student-athletes might have to choose between athletics and their after-school jobs! (Oh no! A high school student having to make a difficult choice? Then they might have to grow up!)
  • The role of the coach is necessary for young men who don't have a father figure at home. If you take that away, these boys are going to be left without role models (When did it become the job of the public school to provide parents for students? And since when are classroom teachers insufficient role models?)
  • We have to have practice to keep these boys lean! We don't want our boys to be no fatties! (Yes, I'm as concerned about obesity as the next person, but if it's really that important, make physical education mandatory! And yes "We don't want our boys to be no fatties" is, in fact, a direct quote.)
  • If the students have to stay after school to practice, how are they going to get home? (It's called a carpool, people. Remember? My mom will drop off if yours will pick up?)
  • If you eliminate fourth-block athletic practice then the student-athletes have to find another elective to take! (What a horrible idea! Wait--what if they took an academic class in that block? Oh, never mind, that's just silly.)
And my all-time favorite:
  • If our athletes can't practice during the school day (note: they get a PE credit for practice) then we should eliminate band and chorus as electives as well.
Oh, my little small-town comrades, there's a reason why you elect members to the school board--because you believe that they are able to make the best decisions for the students. Let them do their job!

And on an unrelated note: Our local AA baseball team is having an afternoon game. Kids who bring a church bulletin with them get in free. On how many levels is that just wrong?


Orangeblossoms said...

That is so many levels of wrong that I can't even count them! Free bball for Christians! Hum. Makes me want to stand outside the park and hand out old church bulletins.

Love you MB.... hope the pregnancy isn't driving you mad. Soon you will have long, late nights, early, early mornings and feedings every two hours.

mmmmmkay. how's that pregnancy feeling now?

Sparky's Garage said...

I find it interesting that no one mentioned female athletes. Or are they all in Home Ec anyway?

anna said...

Oh this is just classic small town!

I'm hoping to become involved in the PTA next year at Sydney's school...I can't take any more comments about how there's no funding or teachers to do after school activties like chess and math club ( I was even told there wasn't any student interest yet when Sydney asked around she found at least 10 kids for each)....yet somehow they passed the vote to get more funding for more athletic buildings and somehow have the funding to keep the indoor pool open year round. And not to mention all the teachers that show up for every afterschool pep rally for the football team...I find it very interesting.

Mary Beth said...

Orange--Thanks! I just keep thinking that at least when BGB shows up I'll be able to sleep on my tummy again!

SG--Yes, that was part of my extended rant. Of course we're only concerned about the boys! Even harder to believe since we're in the state that boasts what is quite possibly the greatest women's collegiate basketball program in the country.

Anna--I hate to come across sounding like I'm anti-athletics because I'm definitely not. I was at every single football game in high school (because I was in marching band! Hah!) and even played varsity basketball one year. I'm all for any extracurricular activity that enhances the academic experience, but there's no excuse for replacing the academic experience.

Does Syd's school not have time for clubs to meet during the school day every once in awhile? In junior high and high school our clubs had 30 minutes to meet once per month to plan other activities. A lot different than 90 minutes every day!

anna said...

MB, I hear. I'm not anti athletics at all either. I was at nearly every football game as the stands even! For not good reason other then to support the boys. My only beef is the missing funding that isn't applied to academics when suddenly it's found. Or so it seems from the outside which is why I'm going to become a part of the school PTA. Maybe I'm missing something by standing on the outside. All I hear about is football but maybe that's all Sydney want's me to hear about. KWIM?

The only other clubs I've heard of is the Kid's for Christ Club that meets before classes in the middle of the week. So if she wants to attend that then I have to load everyone up in the car first thing in the morning. If she was really interested in it then I'd do it but I'm not pushing any interest in it. I need my beauty sleep. ;)

Apparently after talking to Jesse he's school did fourth bloc athletics and so does Tulsa. I'd never heard the term before but apparently it's more common then not.

Jenny said...

Apparently the parent (presumably a parent) who "don't want our boys to be no fatties" got left behind a looooong time ago. (Like, knowing some places, about the time they were procreating...age 15?)
Hmm, my school had no time during the class day for athletics (except cheerleading), clubs met before or after school, and somehow kids managed to participate (you're lookin' at a two-time participant in the STATE Future Problem Solving Bowl, thankyouverymuch) and still get to and from school even when they got kicked off the athletic shuttle bus because they lived in the wrong neighborhood even though the bus stopped mere blocks from her house (3).
Taking a quarter of the school day for athletics -- or anything non-academic, frankly -- seems a bit, um, non-educational to me. Perhaps some sort of physiology study class with some examples? Sports psychology with discussions?
I rant. Sorry.

HP said...

Wow. That's just odd.

My high school was a college prep magnet school (in teh midwest) that prided itself on academics and extra-curricular. And, the extra meant extra time. I routinely left school at 6 PM!

I've found schools in the northeast have longer days and longer school years and often don't provide extra curricular activities at all (unless they are in a rich school district).

Kat E said...

um, WOW.

Christine said...

How 'bout "any kid with deadbeat parents or who are simply left at home alone today get in free! If you look dehydrated, you'll get a $2 credit at the concession stand!"??

Hmmm ... but that might actually help children. Can't do that.

Montana Dave said...

You know that scene in Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom where there are bugs crawling all over the place and they have to walk through them in order to escape?

That is how creepy the church bulletin thing is. Next it will be a free slice of apple pie to any kid who gets dropped off in a Chevy.

Kirk said...

You just election term you'll have 3 or 4 candidates running on a single issue...reinstating the atheletic use of the 4th block. They'll win too. They'll know absolutely nothing about education at all other than what they ran on.

I'm of two minds on the elected school board thing becuase it too often turns into a popularity contest or a manipulated "single issue" candidate (i.e. "intelligent" design or "no-sex" ed)leaving the school board full of people who know next to nothing about actual education practices.

I'd rather see a mix of appointed by the superintendent, elected by the teachers (unionized or not), and elected by the community. Maybe like a 4-3-3 split between those categories respectively.

Kel Bel said...

Oh. Wow. There is so much craziness in what you posted.

1. P.E. should be mandatory. Period. Illinois, last I heard, was the only state in the union that required P.E., which given the growing obesity epidemic, is kinda absurd. Every state should require it, but of course, stopping consenting adults from formalizing their intimate relationships is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT IN TENNESSEE!!! Athletics can and should be extra, and either before or after school. This is not rocket science.

2. Re: "we don't want no fatties." Stop feeding your children fried and processed crap, stop using the TV as a babysitter, and make sure that they get plenty of exercise. It is not the school's job to teach your child healthy habits. Parents need to take responsibility for the well-being of the kids.

2. It is very difficult (at least this is how I remember it) to be seriously involved in high school athletics and hold down a part-time job, at least during the relevant season. Whether practice is during school or not probably doesn't have a huge effect - you still have to show up for games, etc. Life is about choices, and you rarely get to "have it all."

3. What a novel idea - if athletics are in jeopardy, screw the arts. So tired of this argument, which is generally made by very ill-informed people, that I won't even go into my tirade about it except to say that a wellrounded student should have exposure to athletics AND culture. I went to a small school in a small town and one of the best things about it was that I was able to try everything.

Not even touching the church bulletin comment because sparks might shoot straight up out of my head if I think about it for much longer.