In my tenure as an educator—I started teaching in public schools in 1968—I have been involved in many facets in the field of education. I have taught every level from pre-school to college. I have taught in the public and private sectors. I have taught in the military and in the prison system. I have been involved in most extra-curricular activities.
I have had a career, but I joke that it has never been a job.
Education goes in cycles. I have been back to the basics more times than I want to remember. There are aspects of education that need to be improved, changed, eliminated and initiated.
The one aspect that needs to stop is using education as a political pawn. Using students as pawns or as a means for a political agenda is wrong, but it is easy to do.
Most political issues are controversial and have two sides. Everybody has an opinion on welfare, right to life, right to die, capital punishment, prison reform, the economy, but nobody is against education. No politician has ever said, “We need more dropouts,” or “There are too many smart kids in schools today.”
So every politician plays education like Bobby Fischer played his pawns.
“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Paine may have been the first to notice hard times, but today’s economy is trying men’s, women’s, boy’s and girl’s souls.
Cuts will be made. Teams will be dropped. Kids will be hurt.
San Diego City Schools has already started the fiasco. They have cut marksmanship teams from the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) units. A pressure group also tried to cut the units and/or kill the units by eliminating students from receiving P.E. credits for JROTC and NJROTC.
It was only the pressure groups first attempt. They will try again. They finally won in San Francisco. I guess calling them a political pressure group would be redundant. They used students as pawns in their political agenda.
Some of the reasons trying to justify the elimination of JROTC and NJROTC units were so comical that they bear repeating.
Danger: Shooting bb guns is a danger to all students. More cheerleaders were hurt in one game than all of the JROTC and NJROTC practices and competitions combined.But danger is a relative word. More students were burned in one cooking class, too.
What’s next? Eliminating cheerleading, sports and academic classes? It follows their logic. It leads to gang violence.
True, JROTC and NJROTC cadets do wear uniforms (gang apparel?). They do learn about the violence inherent in military operations.
What next? Eliminate history from our curriculum? If taught correctly, history is an X-rated subject.
Every political pressure group has a curriculum agenda. They are not usually hidden.
Cuts costs. Wrong! The Navy pays for the bb guns, the bb’s the equipment. As a matter of fact, the Navy underwrites more of the JROTC and NJROTC programs than any other program in the public schools.
Auto dealers do not help with the auto program’s costs. TV stations do not pay for our video productions class. MLB, the NBA and the NFL don’t pay for the sports programs. Foreign countries don’t pay for our language classes.
The Navy foots a large part of the bill when it comes to pay and benefits for the instructors, uniforms, equipment, transportation, etc. They do not do it for recruiting purposes. More students join the Navy who are not in NJROTC than are in NJROTC.
They do not try to push a political agenda, unless you consider the American way a political agenda. We have close to 100 cadets in the Ramona NJROTC unit. Six are involved in the marksmanship segment of the curriculum.
“To be honest, it is a very small percentage of what we do,” said Ernst. “But for the cadets involved, it is a big thing. We try to find something for every cadet to excel in. There are a lot of jobs in society. We try to point cadets toward a career field or an educational goal,” explained Lt. Cmdr. Mike Ernst, who is also Mike Ernst and Coach Ernst and one of the most actively involved teachers at RHS.
Why the uproar about JROTC and NJROTC in a sports article? It won’t stop there. As the times get tougher, pressure groups will try to get rid of other programs.
The first three A’s of the four A’s are the first to go: Athletics, Arts and Activities go before Academics, and they should. Those in the know understand that all four work together and go hand in hand. None is more important than the other.
The Navy knows that the sailor who works on the plane is as important as the sailor who flies the plane. The politicians usually are not the ones in the know.
I hope that sports do not line up against one another in Ramona. I hope that support groups do not become pressure groups.
I hope that the student/athletes are not put in the middle. Cuts will have to be made, but they should be sensible cuts.
Cuts make scars. Scars heal, but they are there for life.