There is an article in yesterday's Scranton Times that details the means by which the Scranton School District is closing a $5 million dollar budget gap, not firing any teachers (reduced numbers via attrition only) and keeping full day kindergarten. I've read the article twice and for the life of me I still don't exactly understand how it all adds up to the savings needed. Maybe my mind had been dulled due to vacation time. Who knows. Anyway, it does spur a few thoughts.
Full Day Kindergarten
Believe it or not I have mixed feelings about full day kindergarten. On one hand I firmly believe that more education is always better than less education. Period. However, I do wonder how much capacity for learning actually exists at that age. Is a full day too much? Does providing full day of learning at that age actually equate to twice as much learning as which occurs at a half day? These are reasonable questions to ask, and I'd love to see some evidence...either way...about the effectiveness of full day kindergarten in Scranton.
I do also wonder if something like full day kindergarten isn't actually another example of the government giving parents another excuse to, well, not parent. It isn't the responsibility of the government to take care of our children...it is the responsibility of the parents of the children. The same issue exists with school provided lunch: I do not want children to go hungry, BUT how many parents get free lunch for their children but yet have the money to spend on smokes and booze for themselves? At some point in time we have to hold parents accountable for the choices they make as parents.
Something that I was able to gather from the article was that the Scranton School District plans on saving some amount of money on textbooks for the year. As the parent of young adults in college I can testify to the fact that textbooks are outrageously expensive. But when it comes to the actual act of education I'd say that they are something of a necessity. Just which books are they going to economize on? Maybe the history books will stop at Bill Clinton.
I didn't read anything about cuts to sports programs, but then again this is NEPA, and there are those who honestly believe that sports=education. Sorry, but sports are, well sports, and that's about it. What's more, sports MAY be beneficial for the select few that can play them, but for the vast majority of students that don't, well, I guess they are supposed to just be "athletic supporters" (note to all the student athletes out there...this is an example of sarcasm). I know that there are many in jock-o-centric NEPA that disagree with me, but so be it: Sports are not required for the educational process, they only benefit a very small subset of students and in some instances they do more harm than good (as in the athlete who is moved ahead simply because he can play).
Now there is a glimmer of hope in all of this in that the article pointed to possible cuts in the massive size of the SSD's administration. Now there is somewhere that some actual savings can be achieved. Much of the rest of it seems like smoke-n-mirrors to me.