Ok. I know I promise not to get on my soap box. But this article I read in the paper the other day and a blog post I read around the same time really got stuck in my head.
The article was from The Press-Enterprise on March 22, and the title was And Now, A Visit By Video. (You can find a copy of it at The Press-Enterprise's site, although it's $2.95 to read it. However they do have a version of it online titled Virtual Reality The Newest Thing In School Field Trips . )
The blog post was by V. Furnas, at Life 4 Me By Me, entitled First We March on Austin, from March 12.
The article, as it's title implies, is about the new trend in school field trips where instead of actually getting on the bus, and having a hands on experience, the students sit in the classroom and through videos, cameras, and computers have a "field trip". The main reasoning behind this new form of virtual exploration? It is not because they are exploring countries a world away. The main reason is schools don't have the money to pay for the travel expenses. (gas, buses, etc) Because of budget cut backs most schools get the funds for field trips from fund raisers, or the parents of the students pay for the trips. I know we've all had that happen. "Mom the class is going to such-and-such place. I need you to sign the permission slip. Oh and I'll need $30 too."
Now if kids are going to a water park or theme park, such as the end of year trips to Knotts or 6 Flags. I understand where fund raising or parents should have to help pay for the kids to go. Going down a water slide is not really related to my child's education, nor will it help them get into college. (Even though my 14 year old could probably give me a list of reasons why it is related and would help, sorry no I don't think so) However, going to someplace that is related to the subject they are learning about? For example, every year 4th graders around here do a whole big thing on the California Missions. Going on a field trip to a local mission would definitely be something that would be fun and educational for the kids. Why aren't field trips like this allowed for when the budgets are figured out?
This brings me to the other topic that has been bugging me. I was reading First We March on Austin , you should read it, in fact I'll wait while you go check it out. Checked it out? Good, ok so she was talking about a rally she went to in Austin that was held by Save Texas Schools. And the whole reason behind the marching and the rallying is because of school budgets getting cut, and to save money they are laying off perfectly good teachers simply based on how many years they have worked. The thing is this isn't just happening in Texas, it is happening all over the U.S. I'm not saying that a teacher who has been teaching for 20 years has more right to teach. I'm saying that it is a pretty crummy way to cull the herd. Why not instead offer incentives for teachers that might like to retire early? Or base the layoffs on evaluations? I mean teachers are now required to have specific accreditation and what not. So on paper all teachers should be equal right?
Yes I know California, and most states for that matter, are in debt. The whole country is in debt for that matter. I just think that instead of cutting funding to education maybe putting some money into it might be a bit of a better idea. I mean kids are our future right? I really don't care if the person teaching my child has had fifty years working with kids, or if they are fresh out of college, as long as they are able to communicate the information to my child in such a way that it makes an impact. In a way that gets them involved and gets them to want to learn more, I think that is more important. I also would much rather that money is budgeted to send classes on curriculum based field trips then to send some senator or governor on a trip to some island retreat. I'm not going to say I know how to fix all the problems, I know the government has money issues and greed issues. But somebody somewhere should be able to do something right? Just saying.