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Ventura County Perspective

A Taste of Classroom Instruction, Perhaps?

A short school day and too many interruptions--even a tea party--are unnecessarily shortchanging children.

March 14, 1999|JANICE NIGRO | Janice Nigro lives in Thousand Oaks

Any parents interested in the quality of education for their children and puzzled about the dismal scores reported for our state's fourth-graders should take careful note of how children are spending their classroom time, why certain activities are allowed in lieu of instruction and which voices deserve to be heard in protest of this status quo.

We have a school day shorter than in other states, and our school year is riddled with interruptions.

The article, "Tea Party Offers a Taste of England," (Feb. 12) about a tea party for third-graders at Weathersfield Elementary School is, in my view, just the tip of the time-wasting iceberg in the classrooms. Add the days spent jogging to raise money for school equipment, school assemblies for awards and other ceremonies, and the hours children at all levels spend watching movies on videotape in the classroom instead of receiving instruction and it will dawn on you that they are being shortchanged.

When my children were at Weathersfield, I protested the tea party. I found parents who saw nothing wrong with children spending their school days in such a way, an administration that sanctioned these activities and a teacher who used countless hours of parent volunteer time to put it together. Ironically, these same parents spent countless hours each school year helping their children with homework, special projects and extracurricular activities to ensure that the children were getting the best education they could.

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Given that the voters of Thousand Oaks have agreed to tax themselves to provide the school district with a windfall of $88 million to build and upgrade facilities and that the state is willing to fund class-size reduction, it would follow that the countless fund-raising activities that take our children out of the classroom would no longer be necessary.

It is our responsibility as taxpayers and parents to demand that our school district deliver on the promise of better education. We have done our part by taxing ourselves to provide the funding they said they needed. Now it is their job to demonstrate the capacity to truly administer to the will of the community.

If you object to any activity, organize other parents who are like-minded and bring it to the administration. Our children deserve it, and we should expect nothing less.

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