With all due respect to teachers...

As I'm sure most everyone is aware, I love to train. I love to teach. I love to coach.

A friend recently asked me why I didn't become a teacher. "You'd be really good at it," she said.

I looked her square in the eye, and I said: "No, I would really suck at it and I'll tell you why. I couldn't lie to kids and tell them that what they were going to learn was going to prove to be useful in their life experience."

Now, I'm not saying that the three R's aren't key to being a good citizen, but when push comes to shove... Well, be honest how much of what you learned in your later years in school do you really use everyday, or even most days?

That's what I thought.

The truth is that kids don't really learn how to live in the classroom. They learn it on the playing field. They learn it on the stage, and in the arena. They learn it by just living and experiencing everything.

To deny that, at least from my perspective is to deny the obvious.

Recently, our local school district's decision makers, (you'll note I did not say leaders) decided to take that opportunity for learning away from our children, or at least put it in jeopardy so it was eventually taken away.

The deal went something like this. Vote FOR the levy, (that did not pass in the fall) to continue to support our bloated budget and lack of fiscal responsibility, (admittedly exacerbated by the current economy) or we will take all extracurricular activities away from your children.

No, I'm not kidding.

"Pay to play?" you ask. Not an option.

This is the same school district that, when they didn't pass their last levy decided to go to split sessions.

Fortunately, our girls were in Catholic schools at the time and unaffected.

Still, I'm here to tell you, nothing will make a voter change their mind more quickly in the voting booth than watching a kid get off the bus sometime between 6:00 and 8:00 at night...

on Halloween.

Again, not kidding.

So this time, though our feet were again put to the fire - as you may have guessed our district did not pass the levy. The nays took the vote at 56%.

Of course, although I felt pressured to do so, we voted FOR the levy as it directly impacted our children.

I'm not sure what exactly to make of the folks who voted "No." While I understand that they are tired of paying more taxes, I can't help but wonder what they think will happen to their property values.

I'd venture a guess that the amount lost in property value is much greater than the comparatively small amount of extra tax money that would have been paid.

Can you imagine trying to sell a home in a school district where the doors to the school close at 4:00 and don't open until the next morning?

You read that right. Absolutely no activities. You name it, that after school program has been nixed.

I found out last week that drama, choir, and band, i.e. the activities my kids are involved in are part of the regular curriculum - so my girls will not lose the ability to learn those things.

But they will miss out on the opportunity to learn the things that come with those things, the true reward of the Friday night performance, the joy of hearing the crowd cheer for your effort. The things that make kids work harder, try harder, learn more to come back and experience again...

Gone. Buh bye!

Oh, they say they'll have "in school performances," but I'm not holding my breath to see how those turn out, or how many parents, and family members will be able to take the time off from work, (you know - where they earn the money to pay those taxes) to attend.

Of course it goes without saying that my heart goes out to those athletes who cannot perform "in school," including my former neighbor a sophomore next year, and a pretty darn good quarterback by all accounts.

How good? Well, let's just say a former OSU quarterback just spent some time with him, and discussions were under way to work together during the summer.

"The extra time, the extra mile, working toward a greater reward, learning about being a responsible member of a team, finding confidence when you may not have in the classroom..."

Gone. Buh bye!

The final irony here is that our kids have been told from the day they entered junior high, and high school that involvement in these same activities that are now being taken away from them were to have been key to their continued academic success and advancement. How are our children supposed to process the loss of that key?

So what now?

Word on the street is that we'll have a special election in August to try and pass this levy again. I will be there voting yes, but I wonder if the district really thinks they're going to change that many minds.

Are they just trying to teach us a lesson? I wonder what that might be?

I do know this; when you take the vote, a treasured American institution, and make a mockery of it with the threats, and the bullying...

Well, I feel like all my kids are learning is that the bully wins.


Cat said...

I have to ask - what can be done to inspire the school district to look unto itself to change things with it's own budget? If it's being fiscally irresponsible, what is the community doing to try and change that, other than voting down levies?

Jim Brochowski said...

The community can't get in Cat. I saw on the news tonight one board member answer a concerned citizens questions about why and how with, "It is what it is." The camera panned away after that.

That last levy was in 2006 for a "desperate need."

They're not showing anyone their books, and for the most part they're not building anything new. They just keep saying, "we don't have enough."

You ask a good question in that something more needs to be done, I'm just not sure the community knows what else they can do.

Jim Brochowski said...

Just a follow-up. I am double checking my levy history and trying to find a source for budget info.

Anecdotally I know I'm right. It's in all the chat rooms and newsfeeds.

Still, I do want harder facts than that to support my post.

Nick Davis said...

Jim this artical has meant a lot to me, and we are thinking about sending this artical into the schools to pass it around to local neighborhoods and get the word out, if it is okay with you... You have always seemed like a second father to me and i love you that and being there for me through thick and thin. I look up to you even though physically im taller than you, haha! Thanks for everything you have done for me and i am looking forward to seeing you at the MJB.

Jim Brochowski said...


I'm glad you liked the post. Absolutely you may use it for whatever you need. I hope it helps.

Sometime next week I'll probably put up another post with some clarifications i.e. split sessions were actually two levies ago. K is going to lose drama, - just a few details.

I really appreciate the things you said and I love you too.

I will always be here for you and your family. You are all incredible people with huge hearts, and I am fortunate to know each of you.

You are an extraordinary young man, and you should be very proud of the things you have accomplished, the way that you conduct yourself with all people, and the class that you bring to... well you can just bring it. :-)

The truth is - I look up to you, and not just because I'm shorter than you. ;-)

I hope we get to see you before The MJB, and I'm really glad you'll be joining us this year!

Anonymous said...

Jimmer,I hate to say that I am starting to see why the people said no!After last nights (bored) meeting it is clear that they do not care either way.You no I voted for the kids not just for my kid,and you know we are a sports family.I hate to say they need to make these cuts,because they have no credibility now,when does it end?You know I have been a union painter not the same as a teacher but my point is salaries ussually top out,benifits, well let me ask you what is your co pay and monthly health cost.sorry I get it.

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