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A Perspective on Challenges Facing the School System

We received a great comment last week from what appears to be a member of the Park City School system (because we are an open platform we don’t require proof). While we of course don’t agree with everything the commenter says, we do find them thought provoking. We think the comment is worth reprinting here to ensure as many people see it as possible:

It is certainly correct that the district goal is to reduce some of the course options at PCHS but this is generally to provide more structured course guidance to our student body and not driven by cost. Less classes taught will result in more sections of other classes as the number of students is not going down. The result, a narrower set of course options but not a lower budget.

Currently, many elective classes are taught or not taught based on the number of students registered for the class. So, if no one registers for Accounting, it is not taught. Is accounting a class we should encourage our students to take? Perhaps bookkeeping is a good career option with flexible family-friendly hours. The decision makers tasked with addressing our course selections are wise. They have all the facts and we, the tax payers, pay them to make these decisions. To assume we, who see things from the outside and do not have all the facts should be making these choices is rather egotistical. Would we welcome educators to come into our businesses or homes and tell us how they should be run? Of course not. They do not know the nuances of our world. Throughout the annual school district budgeting process there are hundreds of factors parents simply are not aware of. I encourage all parents to be certain they have the facts before voicing opinions. Asking questions is the best place to start. As I tell the PCCAPS students, “Always travel with the facts or you may make a fool of yourself.”

Interestingly, there are studies that show at the high school level a large class size is not necessarily a bad thing. Of course, it depends on the type of class but 92% of PCHS seniors state they are heading off to college and these same students will be sitting in lecture halls of 300+ in college. Getting some practice with a class of 150 in the high school lecture hall might be a good idea and would potentially reduce kindergarten class sizes which is a district-wide need.

What about online course options? Students are taking classes online on the side. Unfortunately, the completion rate for those courses is fairly low. Why not offer online courses with teacher support and guidance at the high school? This could be great use for the underutilized library and allow students to work at their own pace. Online courses have been shown to be effective in reducing expenses in districts around the country. and for parents and students, online classes offer options. My 8th grade daughter has one period or parent release because she is taking World History online. She also took Health online so she would have an extra elective option available to her, which is the Digital Media / Photoshop class. My 11th grade son attends the Winter Sports School and, while it was the right choice for him, I am sorry he is missing out on the amazing course selection at PCHS. Pre-Engineering, PCCAPS, Advanced Drawing, Economics, Statistics, Theater…….

I do not know if the over 300 students who take parent release cost the district money by not being in class but if a student is not in the school he is missing out on a free education. Sure some of our students take parent release for athletics or to take online college courses, etc. but most of the parent release students who could be taking Economics, Psychology, Statistics, Creative Writing, Music, Art, Theater, programming or Entrepreneurship courses are sleeping in instead.

One of the key factors we must all consider when reducing course selection at the high school is, “what will help our students succeed in life?” AP Classes stretch our academic students’ minds, PCCAPS gives all students a glimpse at and practice in the professional world. Fine Arts classes help expand their creativity and History courses give them much needed perspective beyond their own experiences. I do not envy those who will have to make the tough decisions about course offerings in our high school but I do know there is much more to those decisions than meets the eye.


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