Don Bauder 7:30 p.m., Aug. 30
In stunning reversal, Sweetwater board votes to restore occupational programs, cut everything else
"Who are we kidding? These kids don't need trig. They need triage."
DANCING AROUND AN ENORMOUS BONFIRE OF PAPERBACK COPIES OF FAHRENHEIT 451, SWEETWATER HIGH SCHOOL - Yesterday, the Sweetwater Union High School District board voted to shut down the Regional Occupational Programs that provided career-oriented training to students and other members of the community. Today, that same board came to its senses and voted to restore the ROP classes. In ROP's place, they sacrificed that most sacred of high school cows, English. And also History.
"We're not saying that English and History aren't valuable," said Sweetwater Superintendent Ed Brand. "We're just saying that phlebotomy and auto shop are more valuable. Especially for many of these students, who are not likely to become serious students of history. Yes, yes, those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. But let me tell you: getting these folks trained for a job? That would do more to break the cycle of history than any course on America's bloody legacy of oppression and war.
"As for English - the texting life has eliminated the need for syntax, spelling, and grammar. And when you stop to consider that most YouTube comments are written by people who have taken English, you really have to wonder if it's been worth the effort. And don't even get me started on the notion of making these kids read novels, as if novels are still a thing."
The reality, says Brand, "is that most of these kids aren't going to college. That means they either get jobs out of high school, or start down the long slope to unemployment, social dependence, and general degeneration. Nobody wants that. The hard truth is this: English and History are the luxuries of an affluent society. We here at Sweetwater know better. And besides, college is pretty much an occupational training academy these days, anyway. Our kids are getting a head start."
"We're still looking at biology and physics," concluded Brand. "But chemistry can stay."
More like this:
- Sweetwater teachers await funding news — May 23, 2013
- Sweetwater board votes to cut occupational programs — April 11, 2013
- Sweetwater school district cuts program and teachers — March 13, 2013
- "Putting the 'Edge' Back in 'Education.'" — May 31, 2012
- The Tyranny of Those Tests — Sept. 21, 2011