Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad

A school system in Massachusetts has had to cut out all extracurricular activities to meet a budget shortfall. Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Jeff Jacoby reports that Saugus, Mass., is dealing with $2.6 million less in its school budget, so all sports, clubs, bands, and other activities have been eliminated, including the state champion hockey team. In fact, all that will remain is actual classroom education.

Despite students and parents hold demonstrations, demanding that everyone else pony up more money so they and their kids can continue to play sports and the like, I think the best idea was that those who wish to participate in the particular activity should have to pay the cost of it. And maybe spending more time focused on academics would help students actually learn. He quotes one student who says that if there’s nothing to do after school, he’ll just go home and study. Now there’s a concept! I’d love to come back in five years, if this continues, and see the result on Saugus test scores and achievement. I’d bet that most are doing better. As of now, however, while the school has the state hockey champs, 47 percent of 10th graders performed at the lowest two levels in English and 56 percent did in math.

  • The high school I attended in New Hampshire had the highest spending in the state per student, yet there was yearly a threat that they might have to eliminate programs (music being the first to go, of course).  I wonder if there isn’t a need for a review of fiscal responsibility in public school systems, however.  I mean, parents of public school students are often given “supply lists” now so that their little darlings can show up on the first day of school with kleenex, toilet paper, office supplies, etc. in hand.  If memory serves, at least where I grew up, this is a fairly recent phenomenon.  The tax dollars used to be sufficient to pay for all the bills, including most extra-curricular activities. 


  • The schools are too expensive for four reasons.  Class sizes are too small.  A vast administrative superstructure has been created in the last 40 years to comply with federal and state mandates and manage parents.  Students are no longer held accountable for their behavior and performance.  In some communities parents insist on expensive frills and have the clout to get them.

    I attended a public school in a blue-collar/lower white collar area in the city.  Every class in my K-8 elementary was 35-36 students.  A school with 1000 students and about 32 teachers was run with 1 principal, 1 secretary and no auxiliary staff.  The nuns at the parochial school down the street got even better results with 50 students in a class.