SCHOOL MEANS MORE THAN JUST THREE Rs
Will future high school athletes get more practice at bake sales than batting? At car washes than buckets? At recycling cans than running for touchdowns?
Do we want to privatize junior high and high school sports in the same way we are considering privatizing air traffic control, Social Security and school cafeterias, liquor sales, public lands and prisons, national parks and nursery schools, water even?
The battle over privatization is on. A recent front page story in The Observer (Baseball, strike for Enterprise schools? Jan. 6) discusses a cooperative agreement between Enterprise and Joseph school districts to offer privately funded baseball. Enterprise's golf and track programs are already funded privately. And Sports Editor Pierre LaBossierre's column on Thursday discusses the La Grande School District's decision, with Oregon's economy sagging and tax revenues declining, to cut funding for middle school sports, with the Optimists stepping up to manage the program for the next year. Then what?
It's sad that high school and middle school sports programs have come to this, and we salute those who have stepped in to save these essential programs.
Privatization on its face sounds great. Save the taxpayer loads of money. Run things more efficiently. In reality, some towns find people to step up, other towns do not. Take the referendum in Burns to fund high school sports, which failed, at a time when sports is putting Burns on the map with quarterback Kellen Clemens starring at the University of Oregon.
Face it, there is much more to education than the three Rs. Extracurricular activities from band and theater to sports and cheerleading also play important roles in teaching children crucial lessons in life: sportsmanship, team play, leadership. Athletes learn how to handle losses and victories gracefully, and that translates into success as adults.
If Measure 30 fails on Feb. 3, it is one more symptom of the collapse of the common good. The defeat would put local high school sports in jeopardy, with more privatization following. Fewer sporting opportunities would translate into fewer leaders, fewer men and women of character and confidence, fewer community builders. It's one reason that in the long run, a vote for Measure 30 would save the taxpayer money.
GET EDUCATED ON 30
Don't let someone else decide Measure 30 for you. The temporary tax hike will be on Oregon's ballot Feb. 3. The Voters' Pamphlet that will be arriving soon includes 75 arguments pro and con.
And although the local forum on Measure 30 fell through because of the weather and too many schedule conflicts to reschedule, there is an alternative. Oregon Public Broadcasting will present a program on Measure 30 at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Get the facts, weigh them carefully and make up your own mind.