Our View: A test of character
December 26, 2009
The Moffat County School District has a responsibility to provide the highest quality education possible to our children and teenagers.
After meeting with Superintendent Joseph Petrone, Assistant Superintendent Christine Villard, school board president Jo Ann Baxter and Finance Director Mark Rydberg, the Editorial Board believes the district as a whole appreciates the importance of this duty.
The high expectations parents have for their children's teachers also is apparent.
We find it odd, then, that so many smart people with good intentions can't come together to make our schools the pride of the state.
The members of this board often hear the common refrain that the quality of education here is a solid C-minus, passable for country kids but not a leader in anything.
We also hear and see that some parents are less than supportive of their children's education.
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What isn't common in this community is hearing or seeing parents and school administrators working together in determined, progressive ways.
The fault for this lies with both groups.
District officials often lament that parents do not involve themselves enough in their children's education. However, when asked directly, Baxter and others admitted they don't have a system for community members who want to volunteer to do so.
This says two things: One, the district has not been proactive in creating ways for the community to be involved; and two, there must not be a lot of people interested, because the district would have a way to handle volunteers if enough people had asked.
If the school district is serious about fostering involvement, it needs to give people a chance to actually be involved. We hope the district can create such a system as soon as possible.
Volunteering in the schools during the day isn't possible for many, though.
For those who work Monday through Friday every week, the School District Accountability Committee can be an extremely good way to stay informed about what your child is learning at school.
Some seem to believe that this group is somehow exclusive, that it is only open to certain appointees. This is far from the truth.
We should all take advantage of the chance to discuss ideas with other parents and address the community's teachers and school administrators directly.
Although the Accountability Committee is a good opportunity, people don't need to go to meetings to be involved.
Parent involvement starts at home by reading to a child from an early age, helping with homework and knowing when is the right time to turn off the Broncos game and talk to your kid about what's going on in his or her life.
But all this only matters if our public education system is as important as people like to say it is.
Some members of this board have their doubts. We've been to high school football games and can't help but notice the disparity in how loud the community cheers for a touchdown compared to a kid getting accepted to college.
This is not unique to Craig.
But we see an opportunity here for parents and school administrators to put their money where their mouth is on education.
District officials said students seem very aware of the expectations placed on them to do well in sports. Many, in fact, work diligently to keep their grades up so they can keep playing and not let their teammates down.
After the season is over, though, so is their commitment, and grades suffer.
The community needs to, at the very least, show its youth that academics are just as important as sports in the long, confusing game of life.
The school district should require all students except incoming freshmen to meet certain scholastic achievements for two full semesters before they're eligible to play sports.
The community should realize this will hurt our sports teams, at least initially, but will be for the betterment of our young students.
Until we raise our expectations of what our youths can achieve, the quagmire of why Moffat County seems confined to mediocrity will persist.
Parents and school administrators are equally responsible in this regard.