School Budget Vote: The Importance of a Well-rounded Education

    Across the capital region, the health of our public education system is in the hands of voters today. Times have been tough. Everyone is watching their bottom line. No one wants to see their taxes go up; but as the state slashes its share of local education costs, schools have no choice but to cut programs. These programs include special education, advanced placement classes, additional language instruction, athletics (including PE) and extra-curricular activities.

This doesn’t leave much room for electives which allow students to choose their areas of study. Instead the focus is on the federal mandates put in place by No Child Left Behind or the Race to the Top.  Even though much of the funding for these programs has been withdrawn, school districts are still being held accountable to these goals. The flaw of these plans is that schools put too much instructional time into the tests, neglecting other subjects in favor of the RRR’s.

We have to step back from this limited perspective and look at the whole picture. If our schools have the highest scores on the national tests, but our students have the lowest participation rates in AP classes, athletics and the arts, all we are doing is turning out a class of robots, not the critical thinkers we need to keep America a global leader.

When I was teaching preschool, I understood how important it was to provide opportunities for physical exercise, creative play and to allow time for spontaneous thinking- not just stick to a proscribed plan. High school should give students a chance to explore their interests and get involved in teams or clubs which will help them stand out in a field of college applicants. In addition to being stepping stones to an area of study in college, one could argue that clubs and teams build cooperative and/or leadership skills which prepare students for the workplace.

If your school district is holding a budget vote today, remember a good education is more than just the basics. In order to turn out a successful generation of workers, we need to provide a well-rounded education to our children. Smaller class sizes and more specialized subject areas  allow more opportunities for interaction, discussion, critical thinking and problem solving. Don’t look at what it costs this year, but rather at what your investment will mean for the future.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Albert Einstein quote
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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    May 17, 2012 @ 11:08:35

    I do not understand why, when budgets are cut it is education, health care, and policing that suffer first. I think we should cut offense spending – defense is okay, but spending the billions we spend to fight battles that can never really be won in countries where we are not wanted seems wasteful to me. To say the least.

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    • themiddlegeneration
      May 17, 2012 @ 11:26:16

      Don’t they say the way to peace is through education? If even in Afghanistan they realize that by educating the women, they can improve economic stability; then why can’t we realize that when we educate our young people, we create social security for the elderly.

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