Thursday, April 29, 2010
|Roselle Park students protest budget cuts|
My alma mater. Surprisingly well organized. There were student protests all across New Jersey yesterday. Of course, when politicians look at high school students, they don't see voters.
I'm impressed by these demonstrations. They're focused, orderly, & in both city & suburbia. Too bad students aren't so engaged by these issues all the time. They ought to organize a statewide coalition. The cuts involve much more than teacher salaries - or they will as school systems trim back & have to decide which programs & classroom subjects are expendable. If you recall the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus," a beloved music teacher was forced to retire when the school system eliminated his music program, which, of course, gets the axe because it isn't part of the core curriculum. Arts & sports are often what knits schools together & integrates them with their communities. Schools with good theater, art & music programs also have more parental participation. I suspect this is the case even in urban schools. Suburban schools have better everything not just because of the budget, but because parents have paid extra for a lot of what goes into the production of a Broadway musical. But schools will lay off teachers who know how to stage amateur theater productions before they get rid of Math & English teachers, it stands to reason. They'll eliminate sports that don't draw crowds.
Few of those Roselle Park students know that their school - still in pretty good shape - exists because kids who wouldn't even get to use it helped to convince a resistant town to build it. They don't have to know it. It's a high school without a lot of "extras," but with a fairly strong sense of tradition. Some families never leave the town, & some students come back to teach & coach. Any cuts are deeply felt.