Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Springtime - when education turns to ...

I love this time of year. The weather gets warmer. Women start to wear more revealing clothes. And there's music all over Western New York.

But there is certainly one part of springtime that bothers me ... as a parent.

I send my kids to school every day under the misguided belief that they'll come home better educated than when they left.

For the most part, from September until late May, the education system lives up to their end of this unwritten deal. But come June ... once the weather turns ...

On Monday, I went to a spelling bee that my eight-year-old daughter was taking part in. Today my 11-year-old has talent show practice. Tomorrow, too. And then Thursday, there's something else ... non-education related. A field trip, maybe?

Strange that the number of field trips increases exponentially as the school year starts to come to a close.

And not just field trips. There's movies ... and TV. My youngest told me today they were watching National Geographic at school today.

Now, granted, National Geographic, spelling bees, and even certain field trips could have an educational component to them. But do you really think this is anything other than simply extending the school year a couple extra weeks for the sake of state aid?

I seriously get the impression that my children - and likely all children in Western New York - were finished "learning" about a week ago or so ... and now they're in coast mode. Just "getting their time in" so the state pony's up with the right amount of coin.

But hey, at least this week they're full days. Next week, too. But the week after that - the last week of school - it's all half days. Half days filled with Disney movies and picnics.

As if it's not annoying enough knowing that my tax dollars are going towards my kids watching movies that we probably already have at home, the half-day-marathon at the end of the year is a real pain as far as transportation goes.

I mean - if there's a full day of school, that cool. I take them to school. I go to work. I pick them up after work. If there's no school, I line up child care for the day and go about my business. But on a half day? Either my wife or I has to figure out a way to leave work at 11:15 to pick the kids up at 11:30. Usually, my wife has to request those days off ... and if not, I have to go pick them up and then bring them back to work with me. This is even further complicated by the fact that I'm supposed to be live on the radio during that 11 a.m. hour.

I was midly amused today during the spelling bee. Because the teacher reading the sentences to accompany the spelling bee references this half-day-marathon twice. As I sat in the audience and fumed about it.

I swear to God, she was mocking me.

I spoke with my sister in Florida last week. She told me the kids down there have been out of school for weeks. Made me wonder ... why are ours still in school. And sadly, the only answer I could think of ... is that it's all about state aid.

But, hey. As long as they have their priorities straight.