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.