I don’t want to leave the impression that the School Board’s Civil War has completely upended the work of the schools. In recent weeks there have been a flurry of news stories in the Trib about good things happening in the schools. Today’s story is about the addition of more physical education time for elementary students in our schools – 45 minutes of it every eighth day.
Its part of an eight day rotation of activities that include art and music as well as two previously scheduled 30 minute sessions of physical education.
Over the past twenty years as American parents began fretting about their children being left behind by the rest of the world they piled more academic time on kids at the same time the food industry and modern agriculture poured more corn syrup into the food our children eat. Kids lost that old staple of my childhood, recess. It might seem like today’s modest effort to get our children moving is an its about time moment. But its not the first for the Duluth School District. When I was on the Board in 1997 the School Board authorized a referendum to, among other things, add specialist time to the elementary schools. Some of this specialist time was devoted to physical education to help combat our kid’s physical inertia. A lot of this specialist time eroded away through the Dixon Era and the Red Plan’s pull on spending for class time. Now its being added back.
Every School District has changes in school boards and superintendents on a regular basis and in the past students were unaware of changes at the top. The only thing I remember about the Superintendent in my old high school is that he had a nephew or grandson that knocked up a girl I admired from afar the way Charlie Brown mooned over his “red haired girl.”
And yet, in this new age we live in our kids are hyper aware of their surroundings which now seems to include an often unfathomable political system that tugs at their education. A week ago a very bright former “student rep” on our school board, Paul Manning, wrote a plea for good people to run for the School Board. Evidently Paul knows more about my fellow board members than I do because his op ed piece announced that three, count em, three of our Board members up for reelection this year would not be filing for a return engagement.
His successor on the School Board, an also very bright Jude Goosens, spoke up at our last school board meeting in which we voted 5 – 2 to censure Art Johnston. He told us that the students didn’t think the School Board had them and their education in mind. This followed the remarks of his his father, Paul, who had been watching the proceedings of the school board. The Father was even more pointed saying that when he watched our meetings on the TV he did so with a bag of popcorn.
Evidently the school board tail is wagging the dog but our little metronome isn’t keeping good time.