Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Time to Revoke My Parent License?

I've done it now four different times. The first time was in 1999. Then again in 2002 and 2004. And again today when I dropped my son Cody off for his first day of high school.

Each time I did it I thought to myself, "Are you nuts?" So far everything seems to have worked out okay for my older kids, but I still have to wonder if I am doing the right thing.

Watching my kids grow up and move on doesn't bother me. It's the environment that they are subjected to that causes me concern. Each year it seems that the standards of the high school deteriorate a little more. I was appalled at what I saw the girls at school wearing (or not wearing, as the case may be) when I dropped my oldest daughter Brittny off at Thousand Oaks High School in 1999. I know that the school has a published dress code, but increasingly it is being ignored. Maybe the administration has just given up.

I am more concerned, however, about what is being taught in the public schools. Today when I opened my email there was an item informing me that a bill passed by the California legislature earlier this month was awaiting the governor's signature. The bill "would require the Governor to proclaim May 22 of each year as Harvey Milk Day, and would designate that date as having special significance in public schools and educational institutions and would encourage those entities to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date."

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay publicly elected official in the United States. He spent most of his time campaigning for LGBT causes and this piece of legislation would encourage public schools to remember and honor his efforts on the anniversary of this birthday. Idiotic at best. Devastating at worst. I've emailed the governor asking that he veto that piece of legislation.

Finally, the budget for our high school got cut again this year. This one is real perplexing. Every year, when the state legislature completes their annual ritual of passing a budget several weeks or months late, the total budget for education increases. In the past four years the number of students in the public schools has decreased (even with the influx of children whose parents are 'undocumented'). Maybe math is different today than when I was in high school, but it seems to me that if we have more money allocated for fewer children in school that the budget should increase, not decrease.

Cody was real excited for his first day of high school. He has hopes of playing basketball and baseball for the school -- which he will probably do as he has some terrific skills in those sports when he chooses to apply himself. The school itself does a reasonable job of preparing most kids for further education. I am increasingly skeptical, however, on the value a public school education when balanced against the negatives associated with it.

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