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Letters to the Editor

School priorities

October 22, 2009

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To the editor:

Let me get this right. The Lawrence school district approved funds for two sports stadiums to be built ($400,000 each) and yet Superintendent Rick Doll discusses teachers not having items they need (Journal-World, page 1A, Oct. 19)? What’s wrong with this picture?

I assumed children went to school to be educated, not to play sports in luxurious facilities. After reading Chuck Woodling’s description of the Free State facilities in his Oct. 20 column, I was disappointed. I understand some of the funds for Free State came from a private donor. Fine. But to me it seems like it’s a matter of “keeping up the with Joneses” and perpetuating a misconception of what is really important in life.

I know sports are important to a lot of kids. Playing a sport does benefit our youths in several ways. Realistically, how many kids are going to play sports professionally? Or even in college? Yet every child needs a solid education. To my way of thinking, the priorities are turned around. It’s quite unsettling.

Comments

swan_diver 4 years, 5 months ago

The criminal neglegence, greed and theft which is destroying the American educational system, and threatening the economic and cultural lives of our children, as well as our national security, is well-represented by the talentless con artists posing as professional administrators of the USD 497 in Lawrence, Kansas. They're a dime a dozen in this country. They should be persecuted, prosecuted -- and sent home. Susan's letter hits the nail on the head precisely.

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Machiavelli_mania 4 years, 5 months ago

I fact, think I will seek a small bank outside this area, just to store the money in now. Will get on it tomorrow. Here is my popo!!

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Machiavelli_mania 4 years, 5 months ago

When this community gets just too unbearable to live in, and it is nearly there, I will simply move away. I will take the savings that I have accumulated here and spend it outside this community, probably not even in this area. It is called the ultimate revenge!! And kiss my arse.

This sports thing is a huge financial waste. I leave it for you stupid people to pay for. LOL!!!

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honestone 4 years, 6 months ago

mom-of-3 is back as she does any time a sports and money issue comes up. Why do I think MO3 is not just a mom of three but you are intimatly involved in the sports programs and/or married to one. The money is a different color..too bad. I hope the Board say this when they come begging for new money to fund the programs they didn't fund because the money was a different color. No more handouts.

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Boston_Corbett 4 years, 6 months ago

Marion. The education expert.

Got those attorneys hired yet to help your architect fraud, err... friend, Maude? They were going to fall out of the trees I seem to recall.

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George Lippencott 4 years, 6 months ago

lawrencemom2 (Anonymous) says…

And why can we not change the reality and spend money where it gets what we need

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Marion Lynn 4 years, 6 months ago

"mom_of_three (Anonymous) says…

And I think the high schools who do not have sports teams are called private schools. Wouldn't high school be boring without sports teams? Yep, it sure would. "

Marion writes:

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...................

Education is "boring"?

got it

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

seth you are the kind that debase society. You can't get past that money is not the answer. That shows how cheap you are.

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seth5792 4 years, 6 months ago

Wow, someone has some serious issues.

Jack I take it high school wasn't a fun time for you.

Get off the soapbox, sports raise money. If it wasn't for folks paying to attend the games, you wouldn't have half of your artsy-fartsy crap.

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Sulla 4 years, 6 months ago

mom_of_three: You are the archetype why we need breeding permits in this country. I mean that wholeheartedly.

Crank out them Jocks and Cheergirls, all ye American guys and gals! Yee Haaa!!usa!usa!usa!

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Ray Parker 4 years, 6 months ago

No stadiums for students who are not proficient in reading, writing, math, and science. First things first.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

"BigAl (Anonymous) says… I am SOOOO glad that I don't live in Jack's world. Life is too short. Sports, school pride, pep rallys, cheerleaders, bands, mascots, school colors etc… are all a part of growing up and bringing communities together. People like Jack will never understand. It's a shame that life has to be so dark for people like him. "

Life isn't dark for me big al, I'm sure it is hard for you to understand but there is a lot out there for people to do who don't have to tie their kite to others kite strings. And how long has America been growing up with all that? Oh, suppose you wouldn't have any idea. Yes, you and all your cheerleaders and jocks, clueless about the world, can continue to beat up on the nerds and the smart kids because they don't represent our current educational settings and then go score after the game, which really, isn't that what it is all about.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm not twisting anything I just don't think you understand what it means to be educated which includes culture. It should be pretty obvious just in the name of the primary college at the university Liberal "ARTS" and science. This isn't something I dreamed up. You are the one twisting things, I said sports at the level of PE is one thing but your night of being a star big events to be seen sport has nothing to do with the education mission. Those events are distracting since at least in some schools the students go to pep rallies during class time and all the other crap about school spirit. Pep rallies have nothing to do with education and more to do with indoctrination! It is scary to think so many people stand more for the warrior tribal mentality then for critical thinking.

Colleges giving scholarships to many people who come, if they get a degree, in communications or family life. Is this really what we want our education resources wasted on? Those could all be learned at a community college so essentially our colleges are following the money. Of course there are some who are very smart but wouldn't it be nice if the universities gave more scholarships to people who excel academically?

Education use to be about the truth but now it is seriously corrupted by people who can't really figure out why the support things mindlessly. You can think our schools are great because they offer something for everyone but America's status in the world is going to be changing, no doubt about that and if you think a sports obsessed culture that hasn't studied nearly as hard as those in countries moving up is the way we'll move boldly on I guess you and especially your children will be mighty disappointed in the future. But enjoy your rah rah as you defend squandering resources on things that probably wont last as long as the coliseum in Rome but if they do maybe people a thousand years from now will be able to talk about the decline of the American empire as sporting and lowest common denominator entertainment distracted us as the costs of expanding the empire eventually led to the ruin.

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BigAl 4 years, 6 months ago

I am SOOOO glad that I don't live in Jack's world. Life is too short. Sports, school pride, pep rallys, cheerleaders, bands, mascots, school colors etc... are all a part of growing up and bringing communities together.

People like Jack will never understand. It's a shame that life has to be so dark for people like him.

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mom_of_three 4 years, 6 months ago

why scholarships for playing a game? because colleges give them. Why do colleges have sports? probably to attract donors. and there are high school kids who play for the love of the game, too.
And I do get it, you numnut, that arts are a part of learning, but I read your initial post that sports were distracting, and should be outlawed. School is for learning. Well, what does arts get you? It's not chemistry, is it? Just taking what i thought you were saying and applying it across the board.
You read what you want, and twist what you want, so there is no talking to you. I am glad there are sports teams in schools, and band, and cheerleaders, etc. School has something for everybody, and I think that is the way it should be.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

And if it is the thrill of being in front of people performing you can have the same thrill in a sports club setting. But I admire the cricket players at KU who finally got an article written not too long ago. They love their sport for the sake of the sport. They use to play where the new student rec center is, you know the one where college age students fight for the closest parking spot, yes that's right, they drive there, so the can go work out in front of the windows, Then they use to play where the massive unused practice fields are at ku, imagine they would have a blast on that field but no, not for them, that is football territory, that is swaggering land there, even if it isn't used most of the time, but now they are over on west campus. These guys don't need crowds, don't need to hear their name, don't need ego boosters, don't get a scholarship, you see, they really love playing their sport. But of course, most if not all of them aren't Americans.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

Mom, don't you get it, the arts are part of academics! They aren't extra activities but something that should be part of the academic program. Sports as you define them is about glitz and glamor. If we were talking about sports as in the wide variety of activities that can be done on a smaller scale there is no problem but you aren't satisfied until it is a grand event that has nothing to do with physical fitness. If this city was so concerned about physical fitness they would ban all the kids being dropped off at school and let them walk or bike and ban all the junk food in the schools Again, why scholarships for playing a game? And if that is allowed why not a chess scholarships, skateboarding scholarships, etc, why is it just certain particular sports are useful for determining a potential late bloomers in college? I've known more skateboarders who have what it takes to make it in college over football players. If you want to open that can up then it better be fair across the board.

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mom_of_three 4 years, 6 months ago

So you, jack, don't want to get rid of all the outside activities, just sports.....
hhmm...keep the arts (which I think there should be more of) but get rid of sports.
yep, still boring for a lot of students, and still losing opportunities for college for others.
I would have been bored to tears in school if I did not have a friday night football game to look forward to or a basketball game. Marching band might have been non-existent or extremely boring, not playing in front of a home crowd. I was a great student in school, and yet, it was nice having that excitement surround the friday night game, and half time. All work and no play makes a lot of dull jack and jills.
Whatcha got against sports, Jack? never mind, I know, they spend money on it!

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

Jimo you might remember we didn't have the opportunity to vote on the stadiums, instead money we voted for school buildings was used through back door maneuvers by the play people like what is going on with the city now. It is railroaded through. If the people in charge of teaching the children resort to these tactics I guess the future doesn't look so bright.

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esu4kids 4 years, 6 months ago

GardenMomma - I like your comment. But there are concerns for doing it either way. It sounds so simple to just transfer everything over, but legislation doesn't allow it.

Just a thought: If you are able to put all the money (capital outlay) into the General Fund, what is going to happen to the facilities? Not just the sports fields, but the classrooms, buses, desks, lockers etc. Those moneys set aside for improvements and maintance will now be going into raises.

Don't get me wrong, Teachers deserve raises, but if they see a huge pot of money transferred they are going to ask for a even larger raise. Most are conscious of the situations of state finance and are reasonable, but others will really push the issue.

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Jimo 4 years, 6 months ago

Jack, thanks but if it were up to me we wouldn't spend a penny on sports. But you and I have been out-voted (probably 20:1). I don't think spending to build 2 stadiums for students and the community once in a century or so is something outrageous or a luxury. (Don't get me started though on a public play, ur, athletic center, or public golf courses!)

The practical point here is it does not follow that this spending causes a diminishing operational budget or that these "needs" are actually needed to achieve educational goals. It seems to me that we are long past the point where additional budgetary dollars help absent fundamental reform to the educational process.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

It's Cooterville merrill, Boss Hog and good ol boys and girls run this town. Economy in the crapper largely from the development communities excess but here in Lawrence we are building luxury hotels and palatial sports facilities. City can't fill the business park it has but spending $100000's on developing infrastructure for the next round of good ol projects. Socializing all the expenses but letting the ones who run the town step up when there is a profit to be made. TIF financing, island zoning, infrastructure improvements, etc and then give tax breaks to those profiting so who pays?

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

The public was not necessarily in favor of PLAY which is what USD 497 superintendent and board spent $20 million school tax dollars on to provide... in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce. School officials acknowledged such in the LJW. It is a mystery to me how this kind of spending will ever payback the USD 497 tax payers.

Public Said NO to new sports facilites: http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/may/should_city_spend_20_million_or_more_play_project/

What was kept quietly in the closet was a poll revealing the school district has more important issues in which that reckless spent $20 million could have been applied. Yes our schools are in need of $16.5 million worth a rehab. Yes the sports facilities money could have been applied to the capital improvement rehab issues.

Public said yes to rehab of OUR schools: http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/may/should_city_spend_20_million_or_more_play_project/

I speculate the city powers that be,including those behind the scenes, are wanting to reinvent another failed "boom town" economy to further flood the residential and retail markets both of which are unfriendly to residential and retail owners across the board. Bedroom communities are unfriendly to taxpayers because they have no means by which to support themselves thus constant increases in taxes,user fees etc etc.

Taxpayers need to revolt against reckless decisons such as this at all levels of our tax spending government bodies. At least ask for a public vote on ALL future spending. It is my feeling that taxpayers are more fiscally responsible thinkers.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

Boring? Learning is boring? Wow!!! So that really is the purpose of schools. But what do you expect when you have classed taught by coaches and that is where most of the emphasis is now days. By the way private schools most of the time do have sports.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

I wouldn't take away arts, they are actually part of the humanities, remember liberal arts and sciences, no where is there anything about football or soccer. Sorry, but college is for academics or at least it use to be. Now our obsession has infested the universities and moving into the high schools and notice how the academic standards are declining compared to the rest of the world? Nothing stopping people from forming sports clubs but it has no business in the schools anymore, especially in the direction they have been heading.

Sports in school is disturbing for other reasons. Not sure about Lawrence but why are there pep rallies during class time and other such bull that sounds better suited for fascist indoctrination camps? Should shoppers at certain grocery stores feel allegiance? Should we have allegiance for the post office? The water department? Can we honestly explain why there has to be school spirit and how sports plays a role in the mentality? Seriously, are we teaching our kids not to be thinkers and instead part of mass rallies and indoctrination?

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mom_of_three 4 years, 6 months ago

And I think the high schools who do not have sports teams are called private schools. Wouldn't high school be boring without sports teams?
Yep, it sure would.

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mom_of_three 4 years, 6 months ago

And considering how well some of the student atheletes are doing, I don't think sports is a big distraction.
Oh, but you want to use the sports money on academics. Well, hopefully, it would make up the difference for those kids who moved out of the district so they could play for their high school team. And not all high school athletes play for club teams. some play for the fun and enjoyment.

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mom_of_three 4 years, 6 months ago

Jack, Some kids who are not academically successfull in high school (average, lets say) flourish in college. Those same kids do not qualify for academic scholarships but they may be gifted in a sport, music or arts, which allows them an opportunity to go to college for free or a reduced rate, where their talents in the classroom really shine. Taking away sports and arts could be taking away opportunities.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

Jimo, I think many understand the difference and you keep making it sound like everyone is confused. There are other capital budget items from the schools that would have been perfect for money that was meant for schools, not sports fields.

I agree to a certain degree about the marginal returns of money in education so exactly why should we spend a penny on sports?

Mom, kids should get scholarships to college based on academics. College shouldn't be the place everyone goes simply because the process of dumbing down the high schools with sports and such so in order to get a decent education people feel they need a college degree is just a vicious circle. Let's yank the distraction, sports, out of the schools and focus on getting a degree that is comparable to what most 1st world countries have and let the sports be played in clubs, just like all the other clubs kids have that don't place a drag on the schools.

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Jimo 4 years, 6 months ago

It isn't clear to me that Rischer understands the difference between operating budgets and capital budgets. Regardless of anyone's opinion about these two stadiums, they are one-off, long-term projects. They have little to do with the annual operating budget.

It also isn't clear to me from this letter exactly what these items teachers need are. I do find it unlikely that they are needed for student outcomes, however, which is the only need that concerns me. Educational spending has a rapidly diminishing marginal return on measurable student learning. Our childrens' stagnant educational progress is hardly due to a lack of funding.

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thelonious 4 years, 6 months ago

I am not against high school athletics per se, and certainly want our high schools to have decent facilities, but any way you look at it, spending millions on two (!) new football fields at the same time that you cannot keep all of your teachers and employees and have other holes in your education budget (!) is simply not defensible. Certainly the timing was atrocious, if nothing else.

We, as a nation, as a society, as individuals, need to get our priorities straight. These stadiums, unfortunately, come across as misplaced priorities.

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mom_of_three 4 years, 6 months ago

If they could have moved the money from one pot to another, I would have wanted them to do that, too. I have only a few more years of school fees and then its on to college.
BUT I am glad they built the facilties. LHS is very basic - the football team, soccer team, the band and I imagine PE likes it.
I think there are private schools who focus on entirely academics and nothing on athletics. I would hate for a public school to do that. And athletics do add value, besides bragging rights. We have student athetes getting scholarships to great schools, athletes with high gpa's, I have to add. I am hoping my student athlete is as lucky. And even if they didn't get a scholarship, they would still play for the fun of the sport, the commaderie, and school pride. As mine has told me, there is nothing like hearing someone chant your name.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

lawrencemom2, remember a few weeks ago a story about the other schools in town coming forward with a list of infrastructure problems, exactly the kind of things that the money for the bond issue were suppose to be used for. But instead the money that was left over from building the minimum security facility was used for athletic fields. Do you smell in the not to distant future an other need to request more tax money? Even though the pots can't be mixed can't we at least expect real priorities on the academic side to take priority over athletic fields? Sports obsessions that have nothing to do with keeping people healthy since it is rather focused to kids who are already athletic needs to be removed entirely from the school's agenda. PE class and that's it because we have watched the mentality creep from pro, college, and now into high school and it is adding absolutely nothing of value except strutting, ah I mean, swaggering rights.

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JackRipper 4 years, 6 months ago

Give it up ladies, Lawrence is the Aspen on the Plains. The powerful in this town want strut their stuff by having more stuff then larger populations centers in this area. And we certainly can't have Topeka outdoing Lawrence with the Hummer field that just makes the powerful in this town sick. We have more stadiums in this town per capita then anywhere in the state if not the entire midwest and it isn't enough as they are still trying to build new facilities which of course are all out west. East Lawrence got a token facility and a trail now the west side which already has most of the athletic fields and trails is going to use the networking to get even more on a grander scale. They can sit back until the taxpayers pick up the infrastructure costs and then step in on public property and build shrines to themselves. Wake up people, we know who runs this town and what the agenda is.

The healthiest thing a person can do to stay health is walk but notice how Lawrence whines about having their kids do something so cheap and easy like walk but they create all kinds of reason why a combination of the city bus and walking can't be done but we can spend millions to build places where they drive their kids to play a game. Lawrence isn't concerned about health for all, Lawrence is concerned about prestige and bragging rights. There is no way this can be disputed if you just look at what is going on in this town.

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Cindy Yulich 4 years, 6 months ago

GardenMomma has posted an excellent illustration of what the district is faced with. School finance regulation prevents the district from moving facilities/capital expense "water" (money) into the bucket for operating funds "water". It's not common sense but it's reality.

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GardenMomma 4 years, 6 months ago

Suppose this:

You have two buckets of water - one is nearly full but can only be used to water your garden and one is almost empty but can only be used to drink from.

Now, you are dying of thirst and there isn't enough water in the drinking bucket, but there's plenty in the garden watering bucket.

So you water your garden and the crops bloom and grow and they look just great but you end up parched and weak all because you couldn't water your body.


In times like this, move some money around. Isn't it a matter of priority? What's really more important? New sports facilities or quality education?

Probably every family has recently made changes in their budgets, weeded out unnecessary expenses and moved money from one "bucket" to another. Why should the school district be unable to revamp their budget monies?

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wysiwyg69 4 years, 6 months ago

100% with you Susan.,, Athletics do teach to a certain degree, but, I think schools are there first for classroom education.

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ferrislives 4 years, 6 months ago

That's because the Lawrence School District is greedy mom_of_three. They did the same thing with the bus system. That's why a lot of people don't trust them to do right by the parents of children attending their schools. They made a promise a few years ago and didn't keep it.

If they changed the fees back when they reached better circumstances, or when they received money from the state or federal government, then they would probably be seen in a better light. But since they've chosen to be greedy and renege on their promise to change things back once they received those funds, they are SOL when it comes to parents trusting them at their word.

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mom_of_three 4 years, 6 months ago

Here we go again.
The facilities at LHS are far from extravagant. I haven't been to Free State, but of course, a private donor makes a big difference. The sports events came out of different different fund. it could not be used for teachers. The budget for Lawrence schools has been messed up for a while. Several years ago, when the state cut the school budget, school fees almost tripled. Then after a year or so, a lot of the budget money was given back to the schools by the state, but the fees were not reduced. No one really said why. But hopefully, a new super can work it out.

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