I swallowed tears, my voice cracking a little as I uttered those words to a classroom full of excellent students. Students whose over-scheduled lives collided with their academic obligations. Obligations in an Early College Program class in which 21 of 26 students are enrolled for college credit. College credit that the state helps fund and for which students pay reduced fees and receive access to amenities on the university's campus.
As I shared the sad story of my kind, generous, smart students with a colleague this afternoon, we began discussing our love of teaching but our dismay about the myriad priorities among our students and in our district that overshadow our priority: teaching, instilling academic excellence and responsibility in our students.
Simply, students have been taught that academics, that is, classes in school can and should subordinate to all the other extra whatever in a student's life. I've contemplated the "why?" for many years. Here's what I think:
- How can a sporting event be postponed to accommodate schoolwork of team members?
- How can a business change its business paradigm or hours to accommodate a student's class schedule?
- How can parents take a discounted family cruise at the height of vacation season when teachers can simply do whatever it takes to help a child who falls behind in school catch up?
- How can assemblies and fundraisers happen when students responsible for organizing and running them do their homework first and their social justice and service activities as they find time?