Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Beyond the Bell is Busted!

LAUSD's Beyond the Bell Branch is not going to be funded next year (or so we've been recently told). This is the branch of the school district that takes care of before/after school programs, Saturday school, summer school (and for year-round schools what they call intercession), honor band, drill team, outdoor education, and Students Run LA (a marathon training program for kids).

At my school, our after school programs offer guitar club, a video game space, soccer, basketball, homework help, and lots of other activities. The kids get snacks, they are supervised, and they often stay at school until 6 or 6:30 in the evening.

Where are these kids going to go now?

The Beyond the Bell Branch website states : LAUSD has made a commitment that all students within our district have access to high quality, safe and supervised educational, enrichment and recreational programs that engage and inspire learning and achievement beyond the regular school day.

I guess they'll have to remove that part. Oh wait, the whole website will probably be taken down. That'll take care of that.

I am willing to talk about a pay cut, furlough days, and lots of other solutions to the financial problems of the school district in order to save Beyond the Bell. Because where will our students go? Maybe they'll go home to an empty house. That'll be great. Or maybe their parents don't want them to be home alone, so their parents will try to rearrange their work schedules and end up getting fired. Also super great for our kids. Maybe they'll go to friends' houses where there are no adults. Or they could hang around at South Park, where there are tons of adult men lingering at all times of day. Perhaps they could just roam around the neighborhood and play with some of the many stray dogs I see every day. That would certainly give them some outdoor education. Or maybe they could flood the few overextended community centers in the area that already have trouble making ends meet. I'm sure that would all work out fine.

What is wrong with the people making these decisions? Our students need these programs badly. They need a place to spend time with positive adult role models. They need to be supervised at all times; they're in middle school for goodness sakes! Middle School! They cannot be trusted to make strong, healthy, careful decisions when they are given hours of time home alone. I mean, c'mon. You know it's true. How many of them are going to go home, do their homework, eat a healthy snack, feed the pets, empty the dishwasher, and curl up with a good book? I can think of a couple kids who might, to tell the truth. But there are hundreds, thousands who will not do anything even close to this. This is bad, people. Very, Very bad,

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