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Letters to the Editor April 06, 2011

School extracurricular programs should not be our highest priority

Three people have written in response to my March 29 letter (“Students’ reasons to keep their programs don’t add up”). That’s great! Differing opinions are certainly welcome. However, there seems to be some points that I failed to make sufficiently clear. With your indulgence, I will attempt to clarify.

Lori Clay (“Students were standing up for what they need in an education,” March 3l) says the school district is not spending “OPM” (other people’s money). She says it spends parents’ tax money and gets funding for student attendance (from heaven?)

Michael W. Tompkins (“Isn’t educating youth one of the best ways to use our tax dollars?” April 1) also questions my use of the term “OPM.”

Well, I thought everyone knew that we all pay taxes that fund the school, whether we have kids in school or not. That is the OPM that I am talking about. I neither condemn nor condone this fact. I’m just saying that’s the way it is.

Mr. Tompkins questions too what I meant by saying the kids speaking at the board’s meeting believed they had a right to be paid for their interest in getting an education. What I meant was statements and implications of most of the speakers were warnings to the board that, without full funding of extracurricular programs, students would lose interest in getting an education. What they seemed to be saying, in effect, was if you don’t pay us with sufficient entertainment, we might get bored, use drugs and quit school.

And Mr. Tompkins says he sees no difference between taxes and a barn- raising. The difference is freedom. Barn raisings are voluntary. Taxes are mandatory and enforcable by property confiscations and prison.

Barry Wendell (“Failure of community to not want best schools for its kids,” April 1) says that my letter suggests that students don’t deserve the best public schools. I did not intend to suggest any such thing. But, on reconsideration, perhaps there is a point here. They probably don’t deserve public school. They probably deserve much better.

My main point was that these speakers were demanding money for extracurricular programs at a time when this country is in deep trouble. All levels of our government, from school districts to the feds, are broke and in debt. Budgets will have to be cut. It seems to me that extracurricular programs should not be our highest priority.

Clif Shepard

Hiouchi

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