Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Designer Curricula . . .

Whitesboro schools are considering how to meet what has been called "a growing demand" for American Sign Language within the district. According to this morning's OD, a parent of two deaf children in the district has requested the offerings.

This is how it often begins - - - out-of-control school spending that is. A parent, or a child, or a teacher, has some particular need or interest, and they expect everyone else to accommodate it. When someone is in need, and that someone is a child, it is sometimes difficult to say no -- so a new course, service or way of doing things is implemented, and the taxpayer pays for it.

While this parent's request is understandable, it is also ... and I may be pilloried for saying it ... selfish. It really is little different than the parents who expected (and got) approval of a $16 million high school auditorium for the musically/dramatically inclined in New Hartford or the playing fields with astroturf for those athletically inclined. Parents want "the best" for their children, and get it most of the time.

But what about the community? When taxation is so high that it drives jobs and people away, isn't it time to say "NO?"

Assuming that this was a wealthy area and we could afford anything, is adding sign-language instruction a good thing? Take a look at what is being offered in high schools these days. The choices will throw you into a spin: criminal justice, forensic science, oceanography, cyber security, etc. etc. The prevailing attitude seems to be, the more choices the better . . . But is it?

One thing we as a society seem to have lost sight of is the role of public education in creating a society that can communicate with itself. If students are encouraged to specialize at an early age, there is no time for them to acquire a broad-based knowledge, in common with others, that will enable them to communicate higher level ideas to each other later in life. So some students may be able to talk with some deaf people, others with fellow computer geeks, but will they know enough to communicate and solve the problems that people will have in common in the future? Given our local crop of political leaders, we may have already passed this point. An unfocused curriculum is also a problem at the collegiate level as explained in J. Crew U. by Kay Hymowitz. Since educational ideas often start in colleges and work their way down into the lower grades, this article will give you a good picture of what is next for our public schools.

There is such a thing as having too much.


Anonymous said...

Sign langauge? son is deaf...profoundly deaf in BOTH ears. He, however, does not know sign langauge. He had a cochlear implant when he was 14 months old and he can hear and speak very well. As a matter of fact, people don't even realize he's deaf until they notice the device he wears on his ear. Anyway, I'm chucking because I just had a vision of my son going into Whitesboro (he won't, we don't even live in NY anymore) and people assuming that he knows sign langauage and trying to talk to him with sign. It wouldn't work!

Actually, though, I would like to learn it at some point just because it'd be fun. I think that it being offered is a good thing, however I see it being offered in the way that Spanish or French is an elective. I mean, foreign langauge is required, so why not just have sign be one of the options? I took Spanish in high schoo back in the 80's, remember NONE of it and hated it on top of that. I think I would have been more interested in the langauage requirement had I been able to learn sign as I tend to talk with my hands anyway, and I'm a fairly visual person.

Anonymous said...

New Hartford is an affluent community. The residents had no problem APPROVING the 25.7 million dollar renovation budget.

Too, I have heard rumored that the New Hartford School Board of Education is "leaning" towards supporting the Preswick Glen tax exemption. So it appears the New Hartford Board of Education does NOT need monies from this non-profit organization.

Lastly, there is a blog site that has put up two of the three Town of New Hartford contracts with their employees. Once again, the Town appears to be of such affluence; they have more than enough monies to spend.

So why complain...when the Town has so, so much monies to spend.

The citizenry have not protested in these matters and it looks like they are very content with the vast amounts of monies being spent in the Town of New Hartford.

Rebecca Mecomber said...

As always, you make the point crystal clear.

Rebecca Mecomber said...

Another thing:

You know, necessary education, for all intents and purposes, is over by eighth grade. But the money-hungry behemoth must still be fed, so it devours the tax base by filling the "high" school years with fluff: "Teen Living," "Independent Art," and "Health Class" (which is merely porn indoctrination for the younger set), etc etc.

I read the papers and listen to radio... and by golly, I'd swear that folks care more about baseball scores and the Orangemen than their own kids' education (nay, lack of it). I just cannot understand how this can be...

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Mecomber is correct. The New Hartford School Board of Education just approved millions more for their athletic field that was "repaired" just four - five years ago.

It becomes crystal clear we have a Board of Education that is far more interested in athletics rather than academics.

There is no doubt that the New Hartford School Administrators are more interested in what goes in their pockets than the quality of an education given to our students.

Lastly, to think that the Superintendent of the New Hartford School District took it upon himself, using taxpayer monies to send out how many mailings to the teachers and support staff to "ensure" their support and vote of the $25.7 million dollar bond proposal. How many dollars and man hours were spent on this mailing out project?

What will be next for this group of educators?

Rebecca Mecomber said...


AND TO ANYONE else who agrees with his nonsensical reasoning:

"An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation."

-- Justice John Marshall (McCullough v. Maryland, 1819)

Some residents of New Hartford cannot or will not draw from unlimited personal resources to fund a constant stream of demands from government and schools. Just because a region "has monies" does not mean they should spend, spend, spend.

Of course there is nothing wrong with a region wanting to be prosperous and successful. But the REAL ISSUE is:

1) are these expenses necessary and to the benefit of the residents- or to the elite in charge?

2) just because a region may be "rich" does not then give them an excuse to continue excessive taxation for pet projects. Just because a region is rich does not mean every individual in the region is rich. There are some folks in danger of losing their property to fund fields of astroturf for the New Hartford elites.

3) The practice of taxation, in traditional American government, has only been meant for the purpose of necessary governmental expenses. Yet we are now seeing excessive taxation on luxurious items that have nothing to do with the original purpose of education, defense, and the general welfare.

If New Hartford continues to spend and borrow and tax like there is no tomorrow, as you say is so justified, their boastful pot o' monies will soon disappear. And then what? Residents by law have been bound to pay these expenses. What will happen when the remaining residents can no longer support the behemoth?