A Recipe for “Just Okay”

Elementary band students from Parker, TX
In a Kansas City Star column on a failed school levy in Lee’s Summit, MO, Barbara Shelly wrote, “they’ll settle for larger class sizes, the loss of band and string music in elementary schools, cuts in the gifted program and fewer resources for clubs and athletics . . . it’s hard to argue that any of these impending changes spell doom.”
She’s right: the Lee’s Summit Public Schools will not be ruined over an 89-cent levy.
But note what they’re cutting:
·      Smaller classes (where students receive more individualized attention);
·      Elementary instrumental music (when it’s best to start in a subject that research links with math proficiency);
·      Gifted programs (challenging the brightest students to higher achievement);
·      Clubs and athletics (studies consistently link these with keeping at-risk students interested in school).
Students who are doing okay will continue to do okay.  Students at both ends of the bell curve will fall through the cracks.  This is not the way to nurture intellectual pioneers of tomorrow, or boost graduation rates among at-risk kids.
It’s how America ranks lower and lower in world proficiency ratings, compared with countries where “just okay” isn’t considered nearly good enough.

Elementary band photo is from the Texas Music Project website.

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jansgephardt

Kansas City-based Jan S. Gephardt is a writer, artist, and teacher. She makes nationally-recognized paper sculpture and writes sf mystery novels about a sapient police dog.

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