It's no secret that state budgets are in trouble---which means school district budgets aren't so healthy. There are many hard choices to be made between now and the start of the next fiscal year---choices based on what is valued the most (which isn't always kids).
An area school district has decided to keep funding its full-day kindergarten program. There are some (including The Union), however, who are against such a proposal because the money which funds those teachers and classrooms means that other district programs go unfunded. Class sizes in other grade levels increase, library and music programs are reduced---and that doesn't even consider the voices of secondary schools who are trying to avoid cuts. Is full day kindergarten more important than funding art specialists for every child in an elementary school? PE? The district views kindergarten as an investment---children who are well-prepared to read and have the best chance at success throughout their K-12 career. Is that better than being able to offer a more diverse curriculum?
I had a similar conversation with a friend last week. Some people are passionate about the arts, some place science first and foremost, others raise their voice for PE/Health. But there are some schools out there whose entire focus is math and literacy. Again, there's been a value judgment about curriculum---that it is more important to have children be able to read at grade level than to learn science (even with a kit). Is it better to have kids who can comprehend a text...or kids who understand a science concept?
I can hear you out there. I know you want it all---that all of those sorts of curricula and opportunities need to be present. You're thinking that they're all pieces of a rich and meaningful public education. For what it's worth, I agree with you. I think there shouldn't have to be these choices. I believe that every child should have access to a full range of opportunities in the classroom. All the same, schools and districts are making decisions based on budgets, which means that we have to take a hard look at what we value most.
If we can't do it all, what should we do?