Saturday, September 01, 2018

Crisis? What Crisis?

For the past few weeks, there has been some fury sounded by students and parents as well as concerned community members regarding the impact of the fiscal crisis on school sports programs here in Oakland. Initially, fifty percent of the district's high school sports teams were disbanded. Then the reckoning came: The powers that be determined that girls' sports were affected more than boys'. And so some rethinking was done. And all the while, contributions were being made. An anonymous donor gave thirty-five thousand dollars to save girls' golf and tennis. And then the big guns came out: The Oakland Raiders kicked in two hundred fifty thousand dollars to save athletic programs of all stripes. Thank you very much, Oakland Raiders. Soon to be Las Vegas Raiders, but that's a topic for another time.
And so I felt the initial exhalation of a rescue. All those kids and parents and concerned community members can breathe a little easier knowing that there are certain things that will not be tolerated. Lack of sports would be one of them. Meanwhile, there are teachers across the district heading out to purchase supplies for their classrooms and positions are being cut and class sizes are being raised while the austerity measures of the aforementioned fiscal crisis continues for those off the fields, courts, pools and mats. I understand that there is a limited equivalency between these matters, but it is difficult not to wonder from where the rescue for the rest of the district will come. Since I started teaching, we have been asked to do more with less. Librarians and libraries have been all but eliminated in elementary schools. Generous donations of tech equipment sit in closets without the staff to maintain or use them. Support staff has been cut to minimums that mean classroom teachers must take up the slack and specialized programs fall by the wayside.
And music is not being taught in half of those elementary schools. No time, no staff. The same can be said for art. Classrooms teachers who can find a way to squeeze in a little art with their reading and math are to be congratulated and rewarded. Not with cash, since there is none.
So the budget crunch continues, but at least there is this glimmer of hope on the horizon. Great chunks of money are being lobbed in the direction of high school sports. Maybe there is some clever way for us to promote the idea that learning to read and write and paint and sing is every bit as important.
Because it is.

No comments: