Last Tuesday the Clark County School District posted this survey asking parents, students and taxpayers how the district should handle its $123 million budget shortfall. The district’s goal is to make the cuts with as little impact as possible on student learning. Some of the options they offer are to increase class size, reduce expenditures on textbooks and instructional supplies, eliminate sports and extracurricular activities, and do away with behavioral/alternative schools and school police (!).
If I were queen, I’d say get rid of gym class. Not across the board; let the kids who are into sports continue to play. I get the whole cooperation/team building thing.
No, here’s what I propose: have all kids take a physical fitness test. If they pass, they’re off the hook and don’t have to endure the torture of gym class. I hated gym (I almost didn’t graduate from high school because I skipped it so often) and the dykey gym teachers hated me back because I was all girly and didn’t want to play boys' sports. I was already physically fit from years of ballet—why did I need to learn the rules of basketball? Please.
So, yes, I would have passed the fitness test. But these days we supposedly have a national childhood obesity problem and that’s because kids need to get away from computer and TV screens and play outside until the streetlights go on. So what should we do with those kids who wouldn’t pass a fitness test? I agree they should be physically fit, but subjecting them to the humiliation of being the last one picked on a team for a game they don’t care to play is hardly the answer. These kids would be better served in a gentle calisthenics or yoga program, a program not led by someone with a whistle around their neck, but by volunteers who want to instill self-esteem in these kids, not destroy it.
Okay, so we eliminated a bunch of P.E. positions. On to math.
Basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division—that’s all you need. Unless they want to be carpenters or math teachers, why make kids take dumb-ass classes like geometry and trigonometry? I have yet to find use in everyday life for a friggin’ sine, cosine, or tangent. Most people just need to learn how to figure a 20 percent tip for wait staff in a restaurant (though you can get little cards to keep in your wallet with those calculations). And if something is 40 percent off at Macy’s, it’s good to know how much you’ll need to come up with at the register. (But if you shop at Ross, they put the discounted price right on the sticker.)
Come to think of it, after I learned to read, write, and do basic math—which I pretty much had down by third grade—and considering the knowledge I actually retained into adult life, I bet the remaining nine years of schooling could have been condensed into a semester or two. Lots of opportunities for cutting back there.
How about you? Any thoughts?