Protesting trumps learning in California
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders quotes an email she received from Ian Glazman-Schillinger, a freshman at Oceana High School, a nice drive over the Coast Range from my alma mater, Hillsdale High, in San Mateo. His parents, like the others at the school, received a message from school principal Caro Pemberton Feb. 23 saying that instead of having class March 4, the school would participate in a "day of action" to "show support for public education and to demand an end to the deep cuts in funding for education."
The student told Saunders that he would not take part in the protest---including forming a human SOS on the nearby beach--because he saw "no solutions being offered that will give schools more money...It appears to me as if the schools are throwing a temper tantrum instead of protesting." He said he was not opposed to protests, but "there is no money in the already overstretched state budget to meet the needs of California schools."
That is a smart kid, one hopeful sign that good teachers are getting students to listen to and read carefully what is happening. California is my home state; I plan to return before long. My son Joe Mathews and co-author Mark Paul are about to publish a book, "California Crackup," about what has put our state in so much trouble. The notice from principal Pemberton makes no mention of the dysfunctional political system that has made it almost impossible to reach a decision on any important issue. Instead, she just complains about the legislature cutting education budgets and how it hurts schools.
She seems to think a morning on the beach is more important than making use of the precious class time she has to give her students the educations they deserve. I was pummelled when I suggested school was too important to be interrupted by President Obama's televised education speech last year. I am afraid this is another example of well-intentioned people deciding that what we are teaching kids isn't that important, so why not involve them in our latest cause?
Pemberton's message to parents does say that "educational workshops on the budget crisis and the political process" were to be held at the school the rest of the day. I will send a copy of this post to the school and ask if any experts at those sessions gave a contrary view to what the school had just done--taken most of the day to further a campaign supported by various education establishment organizations that think getting money for schools is so important that class time can be put aside. If anyone representing the school or the day of action responds, I will post that message here.
Read Jay's blog every day at http://washingtonpost.com/class-struggle.
| March 10, 2010; 5:30 AM ET
Categories: Jay on the Web | Tags: California budget crisis, California protests steal class time from students, Caro Pemberton, Ian Glazman-Schillinger, Joe Mathews, Mark Paul, Ocean High School, The California Crackup
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