Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is There No End?

Today's example of government trying to grab control of every element of your life comes to us from the New Berlin Board of Education, which is considering a measure that would require all students to participate in extracurricular activities in order to graduate. The requirement is based on an overly simple understanding of study results that show kids who participate in band or sports or the school play do better in school.

First off, those of us who love semantics would point out that requiring such activities no longer makes them "extracurricular"--since they will actually be part of the curriculum requirements.

Secondly, kids in extracurriculars do better in the classroom because they want to be in the extracurriculars--not just because they are in the extracurriculars. Sadly, there are some kids who go to class and get passing grades strictly to stay eligible for sports. A special few strive to do better in class because that is a key part in getting a scholarship to play sports in college. It's not like shooting a basketball automatically makes you better at physics.

And just how fair is it to those who currently join extracurriculars of their own free will (a dirty term I know) to have to share facilities or practice time with those who are just "getting a requirement out of the way". I can tell you there isn't a coach in any sport that wants to have six seniors on the team who are just there to be able to graduate. And an attitude like that can easily pollute a locker room and hurt the performance of everyone involved.

And what do you do with the kids who are interested in sports or activities not offered in the school? Do you add a Skateboarding Team, or Figure Skating Club or Future Video Gamers of America? Does the band program have to expand to include "mixing" or "Viral YouTube Video Production"? Don't forget that any new club or sport will have to have an advisor or a coach--and those teachers won't be working for free.

Pity the student who just wants to work after school. Maybe they need the income to help their family, or to pay for their car or to avoid having to take out student loans for college. "Sorry son, you can't make money today because the school thinks you need to be in Forensics in order to graduate."

You're probably thinking "Jonathan, why do you care about what New Berlin schools do?" Well education is a "monkey-see-monkey-do" field. All it takes is one school boardmember to "brag" about their extracurricular requirement at a state conference and boardmembers everywhere are coming home thinking "We need to have that same requirement too--or our kids will be falling behind!!!"

Plus--why should that school board have more control over their students lives than ours? That is what education is all about now--not just learning but parenting in the place of parents.

1 comment:

  1. You hit all the nails on the head with this one. There are already too many extracurricular activities in schools today and not enough emphasis on the things they really need in this world, (the 3 R's). A lot of kids don't know their multiplication and division tables, and without computers or calculators, they can't do simple math. Look at kids in the check out line at a store, if the cash register doesn't tell them how much change to give back, THEY ARE LOST.