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Brian Richards: Softball or science?

Posted: June 16, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 16, 2014 2:00 a.m.

I am told that my kids go to a good elementary school, Stevenson Ranch Elementary. Not only have I been told that, but from the various awards located in the front of the building, I must assume that this school is a good one.

However, many parents and people in general wonder how other countries are doing so much better often with so much less. Some might say it’s a lack of funding. Others might say it’s because of teacher tenure and the fact that the teachers with the most tenure occasionally are the worst at teaching. Some might also say it’s because our children are only in school approximately 180 days a year, (I’m guessing), and that they should be in school a lot more days.

I have my own opinions on which of those things are important or not, but may I suggest another factor? This week, the last week of school, my sixth grader will be playing softball on Monday, a field trip to the park on Tuesday, and attend graduation on Thursday. Naturally there will be little, if any, schooling done on Friday, the last day of the year, as has been the case since the beginning of time. Thus, this week is essentially a lost one, where there will be very little time spent educating and a lot more time spent doing what I would call fun stuff. I have a fourth grader in the same school and my experience with her is similar. In fact, she is even allowed to attend her brother’s graduation on

Thursday, probably at the expense of something fun the other children will be doing in her class.

People need to understand how much time is spent in schools not doing what they are chartered to do, which is to educate our children. In our school, Thursdays are minimum days. They get three weeks for the winter break, dare I say Christmas anymore? They get another two weeks a couple months later for spring break. They get every holiday known to mankind off, as well as time off for parent/teacher conferences ­— and we wonder why we are falling behind other countries?

From my perspective, the teachers I’ve known at Stevenson Ranch Elementary are doing a good job, but I question the administration of those schools, which allows so much off time and so much time devoted to things that will have little, if any, bearing on if they’re successful or not. I realize teachers would never agree to work anywhere near the amount of hours most people have to work throughout a year, but I wonder why schools spend so much time playing softball and having graduation ceremonies, despite the fact that nobody doesn’t graduate, instead of teaching more science.

I’m left to wonder about all the kids and families who don’t go to a school with a bunch of awards on the front of their building. Leave the fun stuff to parents and their friends. Your job is to teach, not to sponsor softball games and field trips to the park next door that they’ve been to a thousand times.

Brian Richards is a Stevenson Ranch resident.



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